Hummingbird in Sydney?

To: Stephen Gross <>
Subject: Hummingbird in Sydney?
From: brian fleming <>
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 20:33:12 +1100
Stephen Gross wrote:

On the weekend I was down in Sydney with my brother and sister-in-law at Prestons, western Sydney. On Thursday evening my sister-in-law saw a tiny honeyeater-type bird feeding in her backyard on her agapanthus. She showed me some video footage she shot which is very blurry with the animal constantly moving and I had difficulty trying to ID it as a bird or an insect. When pausing the animal certainly looks like a bird (very blurry unfortunately) and my sister-in-law said she identified it as a bird and watched it from about a metre away for about fifteen minutes. The identification is of a tiny green bird with a bright orange lower half of the body. The orange has black markings on it. The bird has a very long curved black beak. The only possible ID I could come up with was a hummingbird, it certainly didn't look like any Australian honeyeater. I have the video tape and am planning to put it onto my computer and see if I can get a clearer view. Would anyone have an idea of the hummingbird species this would be, if it is a hummingbird? or an alternate possibility. I'll let people know how capturing the video footage to computer works out. Steve Gross
Orange NSW

My opinion is that your sister-in-law's bird is an Eastern Spinebill. The bright tan flanks can look orange in bright light, and it does have black markings. Very smart, and it is a most strikingly talented hoverer as it feeds on agapanthus, fuchsia, Chinese lanterns as well as Correa flowers. Sweet piping song which sounds like a whistling kettle coming up to the boil. Non-birding friends have often asked me "What is our humming-bird's real name?" after seeing a Spinebill hover beside native or other shrubs. While small and slender for a honeyeater, it is not as tiny as the other hoverer, the Weebill, but the weebill lacks bright or striking colours and is a very small rounded bird with a very short bill. it hovers as it takes insect life from gum-leaves etc.

Anthea Fleming
in Ivanhoe, Vic.
We often have Spinebills on the fuchsia (old-fashioned variety with small red flowers) outside the computer's window

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