The Eastern Spinebill is most recognisable for its long, thin, down curved beak which it uses to suck the nectar out of slender, tubular or bell-shaped flowers. Unlike other Honeyeaters in Australia, the Eastern Spinebill is able to hover while eating, making it the Australian equivalent of the Hummingbird.
Honeyeaters such as Eastern Spinebills are vital to native Australian flora as the act of sucking nectar out of the flowers helps to spread pollen. They are known to be essential pollinators for over 100 species of Australian flora.
Many native flowers have evolved to be red so that they will stand out to birds like Eastern Spinebills. This is because where most birds have receptors very similar to humans (in the red, blue and green range), birds such as Honeyeaters have an extra receptor for violet. This makes red flowers stand out exceptionally to the Eastern Spinebill and lures it in, to spread the pollen while it clumsily laps the nectar up with its brush-like tongue like a cat.
Did you know that the Eastern Spinebill is on the Australian five dollar note?