Graeme Chapman - natural history photographer - ornithologist

Australian Birds

Eastern Spinebill
Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris
(Viewing 4 of 16 photos)

Click to listen to sound samples Eastern Spinebills inhabit the coastal forests and heaths of eastern Australia, ranging from Cooktown in Qld. around to SE South Australia including Kangaroo Is., and Tasmania. Tame and confiding, they are common garden birds in many areas, wherever there is a supply of suitable flowers and nectar.

Their long, curved, tapering bill is well adapted to feeding from deep, tubular flowers where, at times they even hover a bit like a humming bird. In native gardens, certain of the larger varieties of Kangaroo Paw (Big Red, Yellow Gem and Orange Cross) have proved particularly attractive to them. In the wild, Lambertia formosa, (Mountain Devil) is also one of their favourites but they are not exclusively nectarivorous - they also feed on insects and are amazingly adept at catching them in flight.

One of our smallest honeyeaters, they are particularly agile. In flight, their white outer tail feathers stand out well and when manoevreing, their fast beating wings make a distinctive fluttering sound. Adults can be sexed by the colour of the crown, black in males and grey in females. When breeding, they live together as pairs in territories - individual birds up to 13 years old are known. Outside the breeding season they may wander in search of food but true migration in flocks is not known.

Photo: 591201

591201 ... Eastern Spinebill, female.

Photo: 591202

591202 ... Eastern Spinebill on Lambertia formosa, a favourite food plant.

Photo: 591203

591203 ... Eastern Spinebill

Photo: 591204

591204 ... Eastern Spinebill

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