Bird and banksia

Eastern Spinebill honeyeater

Three honeyeaters were in the company of a flock of mixed, smaller birds making their way down through the southern section of the Reserve towards Coral Fern Walk.

Two stayed still long enough to be photographed, along with one of the smaller birds, a brown thornbill.

Shows Eastern spinebill with banksia spinulosa, June, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

Eastern spinebill with banksia spinulosa

Shows calling eastern spinebill, on branch of cherry ballart, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

Calling eastern spinebill, on branch of cherry ballart

Shows brown thornbill on branch of cherry ballart, Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve

Brown thornbill, one of a flock of small, mixed birds

The Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris) is one of the smaller native honeyeaters, most prevalent in southern Australia and occupying habitat from Queensland down the east coast to South Australia. Nectarivorous, it also eats insects. It breeds August to December, raising one or two clutches of chicks.

The spinebill is known to migrate from higher altitudes to lower ones in the winter but also to be nomadic in an area, following the availability of nectar in its preferred flowering plants.

At present, both hairpin banksia (Banksia spinulosa) and common heath (Epacris impressa) are flowering and the Eastern spinebill has a long finely curved beak it uses to get access to the nectar in these plants. The nectar in the banksia increases as the temperature drops which may explain why there seem to be more Eastern spinebills around now (in colder June) in the Reserve than earlier in the season.

Sources and further information

Birds in Backyards (n.d.) Eastern Spinebill: Basic information http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/species/Acanthorhynchus-tenuirostris

Canberra Ornithologists Group (n.d.) Eastern Spinebill http://cog.linkdigital.com.au/find-a-bird/honeyeaters/eastern-spinebill/

Vaughton, G. (1990) Seasonal variation in honeyeater foraging behaviour, infloresence abundance and fruit set in Banksia spinulosa (Proteaceae), Australian Journal of Ecology, 15, pp.109-116 – abstract (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1442-9993.1990.tb01025.x/abstract)

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