Bellbirds are the most widespread and familiar honeyeater in the South Island, and are also common over much of theNorth Island. Their song is a welcome sound in mainland forests that otherwise may have little native bird song. Although they have a brush-like tongue which is used to reach deeply into flowers to reach nectar bellbirds also feed on fruits and insects. In feeding on nectar they play an important ecological role in pollinating the flowers of many native trees and shrubs.
Bellbirds are green with a short, curved bill, slightly forked tail, and noisy whirring, fast and direct flight. Adult males are olive green, slightly paler on the underparts, with a head tinted purple; wings and tail blackish. Female are browner with narrow white-yellow stripe across the cheek from the base of the bill, and bluish gloss on top of head. Adults of both sexes have wine-red eyes. Juveniles are similar to females, but with yellowish cheek stripe, brown eyes and lacking the bluish gloss on the head.