Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus Tenuirostris)

Photography by Rose Slade

Eastern spinebills are found in eastern Australia, including rainforests, woodlands, and heathlands. They prefer dense undergrowth and shrubby areas with nectar-rich flowers.


It is an active and agile bird, often seen flitting among vegetation. It is also territorial and may defend feeding and breeding territories aggressively. The spinebill has a distinctive high-pitched, melodious call.

Eastern spinebill female (photography by JJ Harrison)
Eastern spine bill male (photography by JJ Harrison


The season typically occurs from August to January. It constructs cup-shaped nests using twigs, bark, and spider webs, often suspended from shrubs. It lays 2-3 eggs per clutch. The female builds the nest and incubates the eggs (14 days) but both parents take care of the young.


It’s primarily a nectar feeder, using its long, slender bills to sip nectar from flowers but also feeds on insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. Eastern spinebills play an essential role in pollinating various native plants in their habitat.

Photography by Shane Little (from Birdlife Australia)


The eastern spinebill is named for the prominent dark, spiky “spine” at the base of their tails. They are also known for their precise and efficient hovering abilities while feeding on nectar. They have vibrant plumage, with a distinctive white “eyebrow” stripe and iridescent colours. The female colouring is the same but less vibrant. It competes with other nectar-feeding birds for food, leading to territorial disputes. The spinebill is a vital part of Australia’s native ecosystems, helping in the pollination of many plant species.


Habitat destruction, Climate change, Predation by introduced species.

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