Family Honeyeaters (Meliphagidae)

Least Concern

Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris)


French: Méliphage à bec grêle German: Rotnacken-Honigfresser Spanish: Picoespina oriental

Certhia tenuirostris


, 1801,

Nova Hollandia = region of Port Jackson, New South Wales, Australia


Sister to A. superciliosus#R. Proposed race trochiloides (SE Queensland) included in nominate; loftyi (Mt Lofty) in halmaturinus; and regius (King I) in dubius. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. t. cairnsensis Mathews, 1912 – NE Queensland (uplands of Atherton, Carbine and Windsor Tablelands), in NE Australia.
  • A. t. tenuirostris (Latham, 1801) – coastal and subcoastal E & SE Australia from Queensland (Clarke Range) S, inland to W slopes of Great Divide, to Victoria and SE South Australia.
  • A. t. halmaturinus A. G. Campbell, 1906 – Mt Lofty Ranges and S Flinders Ranges, Adelaide Plain and Kangaroo I, in South Australia.
  • A. t. dubius Gould, 1837 – Tasmania and islands in Bass Strait.
  • Descriptive notes

    13–16 cm; male 4–24 g, female 7–16 g. Distinctive, small honeyeater with long, slender decurved bill and moderately long tail. Male nominate race has glossy... read more


    Song, from perch and in flight, heard sporadically throughout day (said to sing more often on wet... read more


    Mainly dry, open, sclerophyll forests and woodlands dominated by Eucalyptus and with well-... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet nectar and arthropods (mainly insects) in roughly equal proportions. In two studies, recorded ratios of nectar-foraging to insect-... read more


    Recorded Aug–May, mainly Oct–Dec; eggs Aug–Feb and rarely May (mostly Sept–Nov), and at site in SE Australia... read more


    Resident, or partly so, with some local movements. In Blue Mts (New South Wales), winter influx... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common. S race dubius widespread in Tasmania but rare on King I. No estimates of global population; recorded at densities of up to 0... read more

    Recommended citation

    Higgins, P., Christidis, L. & Ford, H. (2020). Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 January 2020).