Eastern-Spinebill.JPG (20909 bytes)Eastern Spinebill: is known scientifically as Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris. The name is almost as long as the bird itself. The Eastern Spinebill, as the name implies, has a long narrow beak. This is ideally suited for extracting nectar from tubular, nectar-bearing flowers such as Correas, Eremophilas and Grevilleas.
The bird is about 150 mm (6 inches) long including the beak. The head is glossy black. Chin and throat are white with a rufous centre. There is a black crescent over the shoulder whilst the under parts are cinnamon-brown. The female is supposed have duller plumage but we are hard pressed to tell the difference.
Their flight is fast and erratic. Their wings make a distinctive “flip flop” sound in flight. We have seen Eastern Spinebills hovering, like hummingbirds, as they extract nectar from flowers. Their call has been described as “rapid piping”.
There were no Eastern Spinebills when we first moved to Yallaroo. As the gardens developed they began to arrive. Our first sighting, near the house, was a cause for celebration. Since then the gardens have played host to at least ten individuals at a time.
Every spring they nest in shrubs and climbers close to the house. They frequently nest in a Clematis vine that is only a couple of metres from our back door.
Eastern Spinebills were one of the first small native birds to visit and then stay at Yallaroo. They were the forerunners of all the resident small birds that make living and gardening at Yallaroo such a pleasure.
There is a Western Spinebill that is found in the southwest corner of Western Australia. In this species the male retains the colourful plumage whilst the female has drab, rather uniform colouring.
The image is from a print of a painting, by an unknown artist, that hangs on our hall wall.