Ian’s Bird of the Week – Weebill

Weebill (Smicrornis brevirostris) by Ian Montgomery

Weebill (Smicrornis brevirostris) by Ian Montgomery

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Weebill ~ by Ian Montgomery

I’ve recently been reformatting the photo galleries of the Thornbills and Allies (Acanthizidae) on the website. This is a family of small, mostly insectivorous birds and here, with a length of 8-9cm/3.2-3.5in, is the diminutive Weebill. It is widespread in drier woodlands, including Mallee, across mainland Australia, but absent from Tasmania and is not found in wetter forests. It has a characteristic stubby horn-coloured bill, pale eyebrow and pale iris, as in the first photo, which distinguishes it from the rather similar Yellow Thornbill. This photo, taken in Victoria, shows the browner nominate race found Victoria, New South Wales, southern Queensland and eastern South Australia.

Weebill (Smicrornis brevirostris) by Ian Montgomery

Weebill (Smicrornis brevirostris) by Ian Montgomery

The northern race (flavescens), second photo, taken on Southern Cape York Peninsula, ranges across the most of the rest of northern and central Australia is much yellower in colour and slightly smaller, making it the smallest bird in Australia. They are often to be found in very harsh, dry habitats and I am frequently impressed that such small birds are so tough and such great survivors.

Weebill (Smicrornis brevirostris) by Ian Montgomery

Weebill (Smicrornis brevirostris) by Ian Montgomery

The third photo, taken in Northwestern Queensland, is also of this race but is, I think, an immature bird, less brightly coloured and a greyish rather than white iris. In southwestern Western Australia, the northern race grades into another race (occidentalis) with a greyish face with a rufous tinge, but I haven’t photographed it.

Weebills are lively, vocal little birds with a remarkably strong voice so you often hear them before you spot them busily feeding in the foliage of trees. The call is rendered something like ‘wee-willey-weet weet’ but I was told to remember ‘I’m a little Weebill’ and that works for me.
Best wishes
P. S. There was an error in last week’s Yellow-spotted Honeyeater. I said that the Yellow-spotted and the Graceful where North Queensland endemics when I should have said that in Australia, they occur only in North Queensland. They also occur in New Guinea. 

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au

Lee’s Addition:
What a cute little bird. After you check out Ian’s links to the Acanthizidae he has photographed, see the Acanthizidae Family of the Passeriformes Order in our Birds of the World section.

And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:30 ESV)


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