Backyard Buddies
Eastern Spinebill

Photo: OEH

Eastern Spinebill

Go Back

Eastern Spinebills are honeyeaters. They love the brightly coloured flowers of both natives and non-natives that give them a good source of nectar. As they can even hover mid-air as they feed, they are Australia's answer to the Hummingbird!

As their name implies, Eastern Spinebills have a long, fine beak. This useful appendage helps them dip into slender tubular and bell-shaped flowers for nectar.

Honeyeaters like the Eastern Spinebill are important pollinators of many native plants. They also drink the nectar from introduced plants such as fuchsias, and help pollinate non-native plants as well.

Once an Eastern Spinebill likes an area, it will stay. They are not migratory birds, but instead largely like to stay in one place.

The best time of day to spot spinebills is around breakfast. They love to eat early in the morning, particularly in the first 90 minutes after they wake up.

You're likely to have the Eastern Spinebill as a visitor if you live between anywhere east of the Great Dividing Range and the Flinders Ranges in South Australia.

In February, watch out for hatchlings that should be popping up in nests that they build in tree forks.

The Eastern Spinebill's flight is very energetic and it produces a low whirring sound. It's also the perfect chance for you to see the white outer tail.

Look after Eastern Spinebills at your place

Small birds like the Eastern Spinebill love brushy areas that offer them the protection of understory plants. Plant lots of prickly local natives around your garden to give small birds somewhere to hide from aggressive, bigger birds and predators.

Put out a bird bath, and in the late afternoon you may just have some Eastern Spinebill visitors. Position your bird bath near to shrubs or a tree. Spinebills often take a bath by quickly dipping in and returning to a branch just above the bath.

For Eastern Spinebills to survive they need suitable habitat and food sources. Simple things that you do can make a huge difference to Australia’s animals. That’s why the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife is running Backyard Buddies— to give you tips to help.

What is a backyard buddy?

Backyard buddies are the native animals that share our built-up areas, our beaches and waterways, our backyards and our parks. The Eastern Spinebill is a backyard buddy.

Backyard buddies are also the local people who value the living things around them, like Eastern Spinebills, and are willing to protect and encourage them by doing a few simple things around their own homes.

So you can be a backyard buddy.

Be a backyard buddy

It’s easy. All you have to do is care... and take a few simple steps.

Step one is to find out what Eastern Spinebills do and do not like.

Eastern Spinebills love:

Flowers – which given them a good drink of sugary nectar.

Bird baths – with fresh water in which they can bathe, play and drink.

Insects – which they eat to supplement their sweet diet.

Squeaky noises – that you make while out in the garden. Their sense of curiosity will draw them closer to investigate.

But they don't like:

Cats, dogs and foxes – which can attack and eat them

Being out in the open – as they much prefer to flit from shrub to shrub, and have plenty of spiky bushes to hide in.

Insecticides and pesticides– which contaminate insects. If a bird eats a poisoned insect it may not die immediately, but the poison will accumulate in its body and eventually it may get sick. Or it could pass on that poison to another animal if it gets eaten. This is called ‘bioaccumulation’.

Be an Eastern Spinebill buddy

Try to:


Don't be surprised if:

Find out more about your buddies

SIGN UP: to receive regular B-mails about animals you’re likely to see in your backyard with tips on how to make your backyard friendly for them.