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The differences are minor

July 2, 2015

Sometimes when passing by a window I look at my reflection and see my brother. You may think that it would not be unusual but in our family I have inherited the oval face and lanky build of my mother’s side of the family while my brother has the round face and more solid build of my father’s. Yet resemblances do exist: it’s in the genes.

Similarly I have recently come across two types of Miner, which are of the same genus but different species: the Bell Miner and the Noisy Miner. Both are very aggressive honeyeaters that vigorously defend the territory containing their food source or nesting sites. You can find the Bell Miner locally around Cummins Lagoon in the Yea Wetlands. The Noisy Miner is more widespread in our valley.


Bell Miner

Noisy Miner

Noisy Miner

Both birds are of the genus Manorina from the Greek manos meaning open and rhinos meaning nostrils. It refers to the characteristic long, thin nostril slits on the beak. The species name for the Bell Miner, melanophrys, means black-browed (from the Greek, melanos for black and ophrus for eyebrow). The species name for the Noisy Miner, melanocephala, is ‘black-headed’ (from melanos and the Greek word for head, kephale).

On the surface these are really different birds. But if you look closely at these miners side-by-side there are resemblances – the similar beak shape, thin nostrils, even the intense stare they give you with those black eyes. You can’t hide the evidence of common genes. The differences are…minor.

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