Update 18

Wattlebirds, Friarbirds, Honeyeaters, Miners, Spinebills, Chats, Gibberbird

Background Info......

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater

Anthochaera lunulata

It has again been proposed that the western form of the Little Wattlebird be a full species, with the common or English name to be Western Wattlebird. This bird was recognised as far back as 1884 as being sufficiently different to be a full species, but has continued as a race of the Little Wattlebird (i.e. Anthochaera chrysoptera lunulata) .

In their Directory of Australian Birds, Schodde and Mason have proposed this species be recognised. The distinguishing traits are:
Iris red-brown (in Little Wattlebird usually grey); differences of the greys and browns of the plumage, and the extent of streaking, spotting and spangling; very much broader, more conspicuous white tips to the tail; the bill longer and more slender.

In the field, the Western Wattlebird will appear more boldly patterned, with conspicuous white tips to tail, retains rufous patch in the primaries, but less white at wingtips. Close at hand, eye seen to be red.

The Western Wattlebird lays a single egg, the Little has usually two, but varying one to three.

Most useful in the field is the call, that of the Western being a more musical, undulating form of the the wattlebird cackle.

For a more detailed description of the birds and their songs, both are in the MM Field Guide to Australian birds at page 248-249, with nests and eggs at page 392.


Schodde, Richard, and Mason, I.J. The Directory of Australian birds: Passerines . CSIRO Publishing , Collingwood, Vic. 3066.

Higgins, P.J., J.M. Peter & W.K Steele. (Eds) 2001. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Vol. 5: Tyrant Flycatchers to Chats. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Video Action

Unless your internet access is by fast broadband service, this video will require appreciably longer to load than the still photos above. Video is often provided because a bird's characteristic movements, in flight, running or feeding, or its calls, are helpful in identification, or in separating from another species which is similar in appearance, but noticeably different in movement or behavior. Video display requires Apple Quicktime, version 6 a free download at www.apple.com/quicktime

In this video clip, used for sound more than picture, a Western Wattlebird pours forth strong, rather rollicking song. The calls are sufficiently distinctive to separate this from the Red Wattlebird, or any other south-western bird.


Western Spinebill (female) taking sap or moisture exuding from a crevice of a Marri (Eucalyptus calophylla). This immature bird and severals other returned repeatedly, at intevals of parhaps 5 to 15 minutes, to seek what appeared but a tiny amount of moisture.

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