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Spinebill: 19 Facts You Won’t Believe

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There are two main species of spinebills, western and eastern spinebill birds. These are Australian birds known for their red nape a gray-brown back, and pale underparts. The dark tail is tipped in both species with a black-white neck patch and red iris. These western spinebill birds are also known as honeyeater birds as the major source of their diet consists of nectar from different kinds of flowers.

During the breeding period, the females construct the nests with dried leaves, grass, and twigs. These are cup-shaped nests usually lined with feathers. The female western or easter spinebill bird lays one to five eggs and both parents take care of the newborn until the fledging period. Both species are currently listed as Least Concern under the IUCN Red List.

Read on to know more about spinebills. For more similar information on other animals check out our articles about the frigate and the greater bird-of-paradise here.

Spinebill Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a spinebill?

Eastern and western spinebill species are Australian birds that belong to the Meliphagidae family of animals.

What class of animal does a spinebill belong to?

These birds belong to the Aves class of animals.

How many spinebills are there in the world?

There are two subspecies of spinebills, namely the eastern spinebill and the western spinebill. Even though these birds found in south-eastern and western parts of Australia are not threatened, the exact number is unknown.

Where does a spinebill live?

Western and eastern spinebills are native to the land of Australia. They are found in south-eastern and western regions of Tasmania, New South Wales, and even in northern Queensland.

What is a spinebill's habitat?

The western and eastern spinebill habitat usually focuses on the open outdoors. To spot an eastern spinebill or western bird, you can try searching in different kinds of vegetation or lowland and sandland regions. These birds live in a tree or a shrub in forest and woodland areas, as well as gardens in urban areas.

Who does the spinebill live with?

The western and eastern spinebill species are not included in the social bird population. They usually prefer living by themselves. If lucky, you can spot these birds in a small group of their own species because it is a rare phenomenon. These birds live in pairs only during the breeding season.

How long does a spinebill live?

The species of spinebills are known to live a good lifespan which may range up to 13 long years, even in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

Adult western and eastern spinebills are known to engage with their pair between August and December. During the breeding season, the eastern or western spinebill female takes up the responsibility of building a nest. This western or eastern spinebill nest is lined with feathers made out of dried leaves, grass, and the bark of the tree. After mating, the female lays around one to a maximum of five eggs. The western bird is known to lay as few as one or two eggs while the eastern spinebill female may lay a clutch of two to five eggs.

After the eggs are laid, females of both subspecies incubate these eggs. The male eastern spinebill or western male is rarely seen incubating the eggs or helping females with these processes. Once the babies hatch spinebill, after 15 days, both the parents feed the chicks. The western and eastern spinebill feeds and cares for these newborn babies. This continues for another 15 days after which the chicks leave their nest.

What is their conservation status?

As the western and eastern spinebill bird species are not threatened, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed them under the Least Concern category of their Red List for animals in Australia.

Spinebill Fun Facts

What does the spinebill look like?

The spinebill is quite a colorful bird. They have gray-brown back and pale white and chestnut plumage on the underparts. The dark tail is tipped at the end. They all have a bead-like eye and a long downcurved bill with a black, white, and chestnut plumage. This plumage or color pattern may differ based on the origin of the birds. For instance, the eastern spinebill has a small black, white, and chestnut patch on its neck whereas the western spinebill has a brownish-red nape, a gray-brown back, and a distinctive black white patch near the neck.

Both these species of birds have chestnut plumage, a red iris, and downcurved bills. At times they may have a yellow spinebill on the upper or the lower side of the beak. The male eastern spinebill or western spinebill will always have brighter colors than that of the females. The females have similar description although they are usually paler than the males.

Eastern spinebills have a long downcurved bill with a black patch and red iris that looks endearing.

How cute are they?

These small birds with a brownish red nape, chestnut plumage, a red eye, and a long bill are quite enticing birds to look at, just like a rufous hummingbird.

How do they communicate?

This species of western and eastern spinebills are quite vocal in their communication techniques. The spinebill call usually comprises 'chip-chip-chip' sounds in the eastern spinebill and a compilation of 'kleet-kleat-kleet' sounds for western spinebill birds. They use these calls to let others in their species know of a nearby mishap or danger or even to find a partner during the breeding period. Apart from their vocals, they also use touch gestures and flight displays as a means of communication.

How big is a spinebill?

Eastern and western spinebills have an average size range of 4.7-6.3 in (12-16 cm). These birds are a size or two bigger than the fox sparrow.

How fast can a spinebill move?

Western and eastern spinebills are enthusiastic flight bearers. They move quickly through the forest scrub while foraging or move swiftly through a tree or shrub in search of twigs, grass, and bark to prepare their nest.

How much does a spinebill weigh?

The average weight range of the western and eastern spinebill can be measured anywhere between 0.2-0.3 oz (5.6–8.5 g). They are slightly lighter than a chipping sparrow.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male birds are called cocks and female birds are called hens.

What would you call a baby spinebill?

A baby eastern spinebill or western spinebill is called a hatchling, nestling, or chick.

What do they eat?

The western and eastern spinebill diet revolves around omnivorous food sources. Their major source of food consists of nectar from most flowering plants. Apart from these, the western and eastern spinebill feeds on arthropods, invertebrates as well as small insects. The parents feed the chicks with small invertebrates.

Are they poisonous?

No, just like a grasshopper sparrow, there are no records of western and eastern spinebill birds being poisonous in any way for humans or the environment.

Would they make a good pet?

This species of distinctive black, white, brownish, chestnut western and eastern spinebill birds belong to the wildlife. They do not make good pets.

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know...

The species of western and eastern spinebill engage in a brood parasite wherein they may manipulate a host of their own species or other birds to look after their young ones.

Why is it called spinebill?

Eastern and western spinebill birds are called this mainly due to their occurrence on the land of Australia. Apart from that, the word 'spinebill' is a name that is directly derived from their downcurved bills.

Do spinebills migrate?

Spinebills may migrate during the winter season. Although their migration range is quite limited and revolves around the Australian regions.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these bowerbird facts and umbrellabird facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable scarlet robin coloring pages.

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