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Noisy friarbird, Philemon corniculatus
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Meliphagidae
Genus: Philemon
Vieillot, 1816
Type species
Merops moluccensis

The friarbirds, also called leatherheads, are a groups of 18 relatively large honeyeaters in the genus Philemon. Additionally, the single member of the genus Melitograis is called the white-streaked friarbird. Friarbirds are found in Australia, Papua New Guinea, eastern Indonesia, and New Caledonia. They eat nectar, insects and other invertebrates, flowers, fruit, and seeds.[1]

The friarbirds generally have drab plumage. They derive their name from the circular pattern at the crown of their heads and their neutral coloring, which makes them resemble friars. In many instances, their plumage is mimicked by smaller orioles, which use the aggressive nature of the friarbirds to avoid aggression themselves.[2]


The genus Philemon was introduced in 1816 by the French ornithologist Louis Pierre Vieillot.[3] Vieillot did not specify a type species but this was designated as the Buru friarbird by George Gray in 1840.[4][5] The genus name is from Ancient Greek philēmōn meaning "affectionate" or "kissing".[6]

The genus contains the following 18 species:[7]

Formerly, some authorities also considered the black-eared oriole (as Philedon bouroensis) a species within the genus Philemon.


  1. ^ Higgins, Peter; Christidis, Les; Ford, Hugh (2008). "Family Meliphagidae (Honeyeaters)". In del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Christie, David (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 13, Penduline-tits to Shrikes. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. pp. 679–685. ISBN 978-84-96553-45-3.
  2. ^ Diamond J (1982). "Mimicry of friarbirds by orioles" (PDF). The Auk. 99 (2): 187–196.
  3. ^ Vieillot, Louis Pierre (1816). Analyse d'une Nouvelle Ornithologie Élémentaire (in French). Paris: Deterville/self. p. 47.
  4. ^ Gray, George Robert (1840). A List of the Genera of Birds : with an Indication of the Typical Species of Each Genus. London: R. and J.E. Taylor. p. 15.
  5. ^ Paynter, Raymond A. Jr, ed. (1986). Check-list of Birds of the World. Vol. 12. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 403.
  6. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 302. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  7. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (January 2023). "Honeyeaters". IOC World Bird List Version 13,1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 23 March 2023.
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