Monday, March 27, 2006
If any Tasmanian bird deserves that epithet, I'm sure it would be the Eastern Spinebill. Our smallest honeyeater, but still something like twice the length and around four times the weight of the average hummingbird, but they have certain behavioural traits in common. They seem to dash in, feed on some, often tubular flower, frequently while hovering, and they're off again--perhaps it's the high glucose diet! The Spinebill, in my experience, is something of a nomad for much of the year, and I can't think of a spot that I could go to with any certainty of seeing one. Locally they seem more numerous during the flowering of the epacris, common in open woodland and heath, and flowering during the colder months. At other times, grevilleas and small flowered fuchsia seem popular. I've yet to see more than three or four at a time, usually on some particularly favoured flowering shrub. Pictured here is a male, photographed earlier this month, possibly an immature bird as it doesn't appear to have acquired the bright red eye of an adult.