ClimateWatch

An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

  1. 128 Male photo by Chris Tate
  2. 128_0 Female photo by Julia Gross

Western Spinebill

Acanthorhynchus superciliosus

Appearance

  • Colour: Male has a black crown, white eyebrow, black mask, white chin and orange-chestnut throat bordered below by white and black bands.  Female is plainer with a pale chestnut red collar band, plain brown back and white underbody.
  • Size: Around 14 cm and weighs around 10grams

Behaviour

  • Call: Its contact call is a rapid high-pitched whistle, but when feeding it has a quieter whistle
  • Diet: Like other honeyeaters, the Western Spinebill feeds on nectar. It tends to obtain its nectar from lower shrubs than most other honeyeaters, including Banksia, Dryandra, Grevillea, Adenanthos and Verticordia. It also feeds from trees of Banksia and Eucalyptus, and from herbs such as Anigozanthos. In addition to nectar, it feeds on insects that it captures in the air or on plants.
  • Flight: In flight the wings make a distinctive whirring noise and the white outer tail feathers are typically conspicuous.
  • Breeding: It breeds in a nest made from bark, plant stems, down and spider web. It lays one or two eggs per season, and usually the female incubes them. Nest location can vary from higher in the outer foliage of tall banksias to low shrubs only 40 – 60cm off the ground.

What to Observe

  • Courting/mating
  • Calling
  • Feeding
  • Bird on chicks
  • Bird on eggs
  • Bird on nest
  • Bird feeding young

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

We expect birds to start breeding and singing earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. They may also start appearing in new areas as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them.

When To Look

Breeding occurs from September to January

Where To Look

  • South Western Australia, ranging from north of Jurien Bay to Israelite Bay inland to Moora, Corrigin and Lake Grace.
  • Around Perth at Whiteman Park, Seasonally Kings Park, Bungendore Reserve.  Suburban gardens on the Darling scarp.
  • Jarrah forest when banksias are in full bloom.
  • Wheatbelt reserves include, Tutanning NR, Boyagin NR, Dryandra Woodland NR, Dongolocking NR, Tarrin Rock NR and Stirling Range NP.
  • Look in understory of forests/woodlands, sandplain heaths, coastal scrubs (between Cape Naturaliste and Albany) and thickets of banksias.

Western Spinebill Occurrence - ALA

References

Nevill, S. J. 2008. Birds of the Greater South West. Simon Nevill Publications, Perth, Western Australia.

Nevill et al. 2005. Guide to the Wildlife of the Perth Region. Simon Nevill Publications, Perth, Western Australia.

  1. Search Species

  1. What Else?

    Female Western Spinebills are easily confused with Brown Honeyeater but the pale chestnut hindcollar is diagnostic if seen and the white outer tail feathers are usually conspicuous in flight.

  1. Did You Know?

    According to early Australian settler George Fletcher Moore, the region's aboriginal people (the Noongar) called this species Buljit

    The call recording is by David Stewart Naturesound

  1. Listen to the Call

    Play