Nature conservation

Threatened species

Black-eared Miner - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Manorina melanotis
Conservation status in NSW: Critically Endangered
Commonwealth status: Endangered
Gazetted date: 04 Dec 2009
Profile last updated: 20 Jun 2019


The Black-eared Miner is a large honeyeater (23 - 26 centimetres) that is dark grey above, paler below, with a prominent black facial mask and orange-yellow bill and legs. The species is most similar in appearance to the Yellow-throated Miner but can be distinguished readily in the field by its much darker rump, lack of pale terminal band on the tail and a greater contrast between the colour of the feathering on the lower jaw and throat. In areas of contact between the two species, hybrids exhibit various features intermediate to both species. In the past there has been debate over whether the Black-eared Miner is a full species or a race (or variant) of the Yellow-throated Miner, though recent morphometric and genetic studies indicate that it is a full species. Recent contact (and hybridisation) with Yellow-throated Miners is due to human impacts on the mallee habitat that the Black-eared Miner is reliant upon.


The Black-eared Miner is restricted to the Murray Mallee region, with the largest populations in the Riverland (formerly Bookmark) Biosphere Reserve north of the Murray River in South Australia. Smaller populations occur in north western Victoria, with the largest numbers remaining in the Murray Sunset NP. In NSW, it is restricted to old growth mallee in the Scotia region, particularly within Scotia Sanctuary. Prior to European settlement, the species may have been present in suitable mallee habitat throughout south-west NSW (as far east as Euston).

Habitat and ecology

  • Birds are restricted to large tracts (30,000 hectares or greater) of mature, unfragmented mallee on the more fertile soils.
  • Occupies vegetation with a post fire age of greater than 25 years, but is most abundant in areas with a post fire age of 50 years or more.
  • Their diet consists of arthropods (including grasshoppers, bugs, lerps, beetles, weevils, flies, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, and spiders) obtained by gleaning and probing loose and hanging bark of mallee trunks. The diet also includes nectar, pollen, plant material, seeds and fruit.
  • They breed communally in groups of between eight and 40 birds and use a cup-shaped nest constructed from grasses and sticks within mallee eucalypts located in a fork or mistletoe clump. Breeding appears to be opportunistic and may occur whenever conditions are suitable, but is most often recorded between September and December.
  • Groups persist throughout the year, though may feed in smaller groups or singly. Much shyer than other species of miners, feeding quietly and mainly calling only in the breeding season. Will sometimes approach observers briefly but usually flies away from observers and difficult to view.
  • Hybrids can be difficult to separate in the field, and ‘pure’ Black-eared Miners may only be identifiable after the bird is captured.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Murray Darling DepressionSouth Olary Plain Known None
Other StateSA Known None
Other StateVIC Known None