Welcome … #228

Another new bird for the local list – the Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater Acanthagenys rufogularis.

A medium-size honeyeater (smaller than the wattlebirds), this species has a rather unusual distribution. Essentially a dry-country bird in Victoria it is a common inhabitant of woodland and mallee areas, especially in the north-west. It is also reasonably common around Melbourne and the peninsulas of Port Phillip Bay, where it has adapted to home gardens and areas of scrubland on sandy soils.

Until yesterday it was a species that I hadn’t recorded locally, however, its arrival was not entirely unexpected. It is one of a number of nomadic, dry country honeyeaters* that can often be found well ‘out of range’. I suspect small numbers occur in the district in some years. The late Joan Butler, a dedicated and knowledgeable local bird observer, recorded it a number of times back in 2001 (from May to July at Joyce’s Park) and since then there have been a small number of observations in the vicinity of Maldon and Muckleford.

Like most honeyeaters it is active and somewhat aggressive bird. This recent sighting involved three individuals – spending most of their time chasing each other, or being pursued by Red Wattlebirds and White-plumed Honeyeaters, into whose territory they had ventured.

Apart from their distinctive appearance (brilliant blue iris, pink bill with a dark tip, white cheek-stripe, apricot-buff throat and tear-drop underparts), Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters have a most beautiful voice. Often described as a series of liquid, gurgling notes it is easily recognised as something different when heard for the first time.

A big shout out to Will Donkin who first spotted this flock last Friday (8th July). Will initially identified the call as unusual and then tracked down the owner!

I don’t expect these birds will stay around … but let’s see.


Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Mia Mia Creek Newstead, 11th July 2022









* Other dry-country nomads that are well being alert for include: Striped Honeyeater, Black Honeyeater, Pied Honeyeater, Purple-gaped Honeyeater and Yellow-plumed Honeyeater.

7 responses to “Welcome … #228

  1. Nice record Geoff. I got a single bird here in Ashbourne on 25/04/2020, a real surprise in our area.

  2. Hi Natural Newstead. We had three blue faced honey eaters in the backyard last week. Steve and Rose.

    • Thanks for the note Steve and Rose. There is a small flock (maybe 5 birds) that has been in Newstead now for the past couple of years. Glad to hear they have paid a visit. Cheers, geoff

  3. maryboroughvet@gmail.com

    Hi Geoff, I saw this bird yesterday, and I don’t recollect seeing it before. Can you tell me what it is? I do love your emails, having now retired I spend many hours in the local bush, and just wish I had more knowledge of the abundant bird life . Regards, Kris Hardefeldt

    Sent from my iPad


    • Hi Kris – can you send me the image via email (geoff.park@naturaldecisions.com.au). WordPress comments don’t allow image attachments.
      Cheers, geoff

  4. Nathan Gregory

    Hi Geoff, Great record! A lone individual passed through our garden in late winter/early spring last year – the first time I’d seen this species locally also.

  5. George BROADWAY

    Hi Geoff I have to tell you that the spiny one was recorded 40 or 50 years ago at Campbells Ck by well known and respected bird observer, Kay Turner et al. I can remember her being quite. excited about it at the time Regards George


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.