Marianne CannonEastern spinebill, and Birdwatching 101

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.

Eastern spinebill

Eastern Spinebill Photo Glen Fergus

Eastern Spinebill Photo Glen Fergus

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.

Birdwatching 101


Birds of AustraliaIf 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.

Field Guide to Birds of Australia

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.


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Marianne Cannon

About Marianne Cannon

Marianne Cannon has been broadcasting as Real World Gardener on radio 2RRR 88.5fm in Sydney, since September 2009, and the program is now syndicated to radio stations around Australia. It's about growing your own, the abc of plants, and how to create sustainable gardens to fit into today's environment. Not just a show about plants; it has a strong green and ecological bent, with co-presenters addressing issues such as native animals and plants, water conservation, composting, reducing waste, protecting native species and more.

3 thoughts on “Eastern spinebill, and Birdwatching 101

    • Hi Sandra

      I worked at UNSW in 2008 and 2009. We went to school together didn’t we? It would be great to get back in touch.


      • Hi Sue
        Yes, we bumped into each other at Burnley too. How are you going? The Garden Drum is a great gardening website and didn’t know you were so into birds. I listened to the recording but I didn’t recognise your voice.
        How is it going in Sydney are you coming down to Melbourne for any courses?
        Cheers Sandi

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