I talk with ecologist Sue Stevens about the eastern spinebill, a honey eater with a distinct appearance and peeping call, and how to get the most out of birdwatching.
A type of honey eater, the Eastern Spinebill, is scientifically Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris, which means narrow-billed. The eastern spinebill can hover like a hummingbird to feed, unlike most honey eaters which only feed from a perched position. It’s also a very distinctive looking honey eater with a chestnut breast and nape, white throat, black wings, a tail with white tips, red eye and very thin curved beak. This narrow beak allows it to feed on very long tubular flowers. Listen while Sue Stevens tells us more about its habits and where to find it.
If you’re a birdwatching novice, how do you start and what do you need? In warmer climates, birds are most active in the very early morning and the evening so that’s the best time to start, but don’t forget nocturnal birds like owls!
The most essential piece of equipment is a field guide to the birds of Australia – all have the birds arranged in the book in the same scientific order. Begin by flipping through the book and becoming familiar with the characteristics of different bird families, as well as where they are in the book.
The next piece of equipment you need is binoculars, so we’ll talk about the best way to choose them.
There are several bird watching groups where you can learn quickly from friendly experts as well as some council-run classes.
We’ll also talk about easy steps to use to identify what bird you’re seeing, including some bird call apps.