Graeme Chapman - natural history photographer - ornithologist

Australian Birds

Eremiornis carteri
(Viewing 4 of 12 photos)

Click to listen to sound samples Spinifexbirds are arid zone specialists. They inhabitat a broad band of spinifex grassland stretching from near Hughenden in Queensland through northern Australia to the Pilbara region on the coast of W.A. Unlike the majority of our small birds which evolved right here in Australia, Spinifexbirds are relatively recent arrivals and belong to a group of "Old World Warblers" (family Sylviidae) whose closest relatives lie outside Australia as far away as Asia and Africa. Probably the closest relatives of the Spinifexbird in Australia are the two Grassbirds, the Tawny and Little. Structurally they are fairly similar. Compare pics. 507202 Spinifexbird and 532206D Tawny Grassbird - their very rounded spread tails are remarkably alike but Spinifexbirds are unusual in having only 10 rectrices (tail feathers). They also have very small feet, no doubt an adaptation to gripping the slender stalks of spinifex grass.

Throughout the spinifex grasslands the places to look for Spinifexbirds are along creek lines and in sheltered places where extra moisture allows the grass hummocks to grow the thickest. They are very shy birds and in the presence of humans rarely show themselves, but in the breeding season males often betray their presence by singing from elevated perches. The song is quite distinctive but brief - lasting less than a second, but repeated at regular intervals (listen on sound page). They live as simple pairs in permanent territories, spending most of their time in the grass layer. Their flight is weak, the heavy tail trailing but it can be erected, as when foraging on the ground (pic. 507205) or sometimes when perched.

Photo: 507201

507201 ... Spinifexbird.

Photo: 507202

507202 ... Spinifexbird.

Photo: 507203

507203 ... Spinifexbird

Photo: 507204

507204 ... Spinifexbird

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