Mostly small, these passerines are 2.2-8.3 in (5.6-21 cm) in length. Flowerpeckers in the genera Prionochilus and Dicaeum are small with short bills and short stubby tails and have the distal third of the upper mandibles serrated. Tongues of Prionochilus are split at the end and each prong is further subdivided by a cleft. Tongues of the Dicaeum species are similar but longer and more variable, some having their edges curled up to form two tubes to facilitate uptake of nectar. Species in both genera have frilly outer edges, termed fim-briations, to their tongues. Some species are dull in plumage but others are brightly colored with patterns of red or yellow contrasting with black or dark blue feathering. In most cases, plumages of females are duller than those of males.
Berrypeckers vary from the small tit-like Arfak berrypecker (Oreocharis arfaki) to the biggest member of the family, the thrush-like crested berrypecker (Paramythia montium). They have simple tongues, elongated straight bills, and lack specializations of the gut that those flowerpeckers that deal with mistletoe berries have. Melanocharis spp. and Rhamphocharis crassirostris have pectoral tufts.
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