Help on tiny Honeyeater

5 posts / 0 new
Last post
Magpie2642
Magpie2642's picture
Help on tiny Honeyeater

Hi All, I need a very small bird ID'd. From its size we thought it was a Silvereye - but it has a really long thin down curved beak. Brownish grey on top with a yellowish front. It was in our Lemon ti-tree where the big wattlebirds love to sit. I have heard it for a few days and actually thought the neighbors had a squeaky wheel on something. It makes a very short sharp squeak, at intervals of about 1 second and keeps calling as it hops around. The closest I have got to an ID is a Brown Honeyeater, but that seems bigger than this little guy, and the beak is not long/thin enough. I am going to try for a photo, but he doen't sit still for long! Any ideas on what this bird is. We live in Melbourne and the garden is full of natives that the wattlebirds love.

DenisWilson
DenisWilson's picture

Hi Magpie2642
Sounds like a juvenile Eastern Spinebill. They squeak incessantly!
Check this image from the COG Photo Gallery
http://photogallery.canberrabirds.org.au/images/Spinebill_Eastern_Cook.jpg
Cheers
Denis

Magpie2642
Magpie2642's picture

Thanks Denis, from the picture you linked it could be a junior eastern spinebill, I had only seen photos of the adults which didn't look right. I have never seen any adults around here - I guess I'll have to keep a look out. Would a young one be far from the parents?
Thanks
Amanda.

DenisWilson
DenisWilson's picture

Hi Amanda
In general a baby Spinebill would be expected to be close to its parents. The incessant squeaking indicates it is still being fed or at least partly supported by its parents.
.
Spinebills are distinctive in their calls, (high-pitched trill). Listen to the call linked from the bottom right of the BiBY Page for Eastern Spinebill:
http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/finder/display.cfm?id=109
Also their flight is distinctively noisy (flip, flip, flip sound) made by their stiff wings. Also, as they fly away from you, the white feathers either side of the tail are very obvious. (Robins have a similar appearance in the tail, but that's the only similarity). Spinebills are probably the most common Honeyeater on the east coast. They usually survive the competitive behaviour of Wattlebirds and Noisy Miners, by hanging out in dense cover. That's why planting of dense shrubberies is often recommended on these pages, as a way of attracting small birds.
Too many Eucalypts and Grevilleas can be not always a good thing. Some other natives help provide dense cover and nesting material. Wattlebirds and Miners (and Rainbow Lorikeets) can all be very aggressive, and chase little birds away relentlessly.
Hope these comments help.
Denis

ed
ed's picture

Hi Denis & Magpie
Not sure I can help with the ID from up here (Townsville), but to illustrate the point about aggressive lorikeets the trees that the birds are feeding in on my last post are normally full of honey-eaters up to 4 species as well as other birds looking for insects and the like, in a half hour visit yesterday only lorries were present (and noisy).

Ed Townsville NQ

 and @UrbanBirdsOz  @birdsinbackyards
                 Subscribe to me on YouTube