Ian’s Bird of the Week – Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater ~ Ian Montgomery
Newsletter – 8/20/13
I’m currently preparing photos for a digital version of the book Where to Find Birds in North-East Queensland by Jo Wieneke (http://www.nqbirds.com). I’m finding that many of these have not yet featured as bird of the week, so here’s one that I came across a photo this morning that appealed to me, one of an unusual-looking honeyeater, the Spiny-cheeked, taken not long after sunrise at Gluepot, the BirdLife Australia mallee reserve in South Australia. At the time, I was spending some time each morning at a hide overlooking a drinking trough waiting for Scarlet-chested Parrots http://www.birdway.com.au/psittacidae/scarlet_chested_parrot/index.htm.
The Spiny-cheeked is a bird of dry country, so the easiest way to photograph it is as watering places, and the second photo was taken in Central Queensland south of Torrens Creek near a dam, this time close to sunset. It is a widespread and common in the more arid parts of mainland Australia except tropical Australia north of about 19ºS and Tasmania. It also occurs in scrubby coastal areas, such as southern Victoria. Like many dry-country birds it is nomadic and appears only rarely in Northeastern Queensland, though I did see one in the garden in the first house I lived in Townsville in 2002.
With a length of 23-26cm/9-10in, it’s quite large by honeyeater standards and the bare pink area on the face gives it some similarity to the Wattlebirds, also honeyeaters. Although it is the only member of the genus Acanthagenys, DNA studies have shown that it is related to both the Wattlebirds (Acanthocaera) and the Regent Honeyeater, another one with bare red skin, in this case around the eye. The Spiny-cheeked is quite vocal with a creaky, piping, rather Wattlebird-like song, often the first sign of its presence.
Feedback on the change in font was rather muted, with one in favour of the new one, one against it and one not liking the underlining of the scientific name. I can agree with all points of view and am undecided, though I’m using the new font for photos in the digital version of Jo Wieneke’s book. I’ve rather got used to it, though I’ve started putting the scientific name in grey to make the underlining less obvious as I’m constrained both by the convention of using either italics or underlining for scientific name and the lack of an italic option in an already italic-looking font. My thanks to those who took the trouble to respond.
Jo’s book has been out of print for a little while now, so the digital version is to fill the gap left by its disappearance from book shops. I’ll let you know when it is available: the aim is to publish it for Apple iBooks, Google PlayBooks and Amazon Kindle.
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bird Photos http://www.birdway.com.au/
Recorder Society http://www.nqrs.org.au
My son, eat honey because it is good, And the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste; (Pro 24:13 NKJV)
This Honeyeater belong to the Meliphagidae – Honeyeaters Family, which has 184 species. Check out Ian’s photos of this Family.
In addition to what Ian mentioned about the Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Wikipedia had this to say:
The honeyeater is mainly frugivorous, but will also eat nectar, blossoms, insects, reptiles, and young birds. Its habitat includes deserts, coastal scrubland, and dry woodlands. It is also found in mangroves and orchards. Its range includes most of Australia except for Tasmania, tropical Northern areas, the Southeastern coast.
The Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater is a grey-brown bird with a burnt orange throat and chest. It has grey wings edged with white, and a long tail with white tips. It has a pink, black-tipped bill.
Here is the song of a Spiny-cheeked from xeno-canto.
- Ian’s Bird of the Week
- Ian’s Honeyeaters
- Meliphagidae – Honeyeaters Family
- Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater – Wikipedia