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Birds of the world. A-Z of bird genera part-2

Updated on September 23, 2015

Tasmanian Thronbill. Acanthiza ewingii

Risdon Brook Dam Tasmania
Risdon Brook Dam Tasmania | Source

Introduction. Acanthiza.

This is the second part of A-Z of bird genera in which we look at birds that occur throughout the world. We commence with the genus Acanthiza,a group of Passerine birds that are mostly confined to Australia,with one species Acanthixa murina restricted to New Guinea,they are collectively known as the Thornbills.

Inland Thornbill.


Inland Thornbill Acanthiza apicaulis.

The Inland Thornbill,often referred to as the 'Broad tailed thornbill',is, in common with this group , an insectivore. It may be confused with the Brown Thornbill which has a similar plumage colour. There are also four sub-species,Acanthiza acanthiza albiventirs, A.a cunerascens and A.a whitlocki.

The Inland Thornbill is between 9-11 cm { three and a half -four and a quarter inches} and weighs seven grams. The back is grey brown,the rump reddish. The tail is dark with a white tip. below is off white,coloured with dark streaks. Females are indistinguishable in the field.As its common name suggests this bird may be encountered throughout the Australia inland of the Great Dividing Range. They frequent dry scrub land and woodlands.

Yellow Thornbill.


Yellow Thornbill. Acanthiza nana.

Acanthiza nana, the Yellow thornbill is also an Australian species and is protected.It is a small to medium sized Thornbill and has the most yellow colouring of any of this group. The back is green olive above The cheeks and ears are streaked with white. The under parts are pale yellow. The chin and throat is often coloured by a reddish brown hue.

It is found along the eastern states of Australia from the bottom half of Queensland through most of New South Wales,and all of Victoria. It also extends to parts of South Australia. It is a bird of open forests and woodlands. it is also often encountered in established Parks and gardens.

The nest is a rounded dome structure with a hooded entrance near the top. It is constructed with some skill of grasses,twigs and other plant materials and lined with feathers or plant down. the nest is usually located in the upper branches of a tree.

Yellow -rumped thornbill.

Taken in New South Wales.
Taken in New South Wales. | Source

Yellow -rumped Thornbill..

The Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Acanthiza chrysorrhoa, is the largest of the Thornbills being four to five inches long and weighing nine grams. It is similar to the previous species but can be distinguished by its distinctive yellow rump,and a black forehead with white spots.. The head and neck are grey.It has a short tail and a long slender bill.

There are four sub-species which vary a little in plumage colouring. It is distributed across western ,southern and eastern Australia,as well as Tasmania. It frequents a variety of habitat which include open forest,woodland, grassland,savannah and scrub land. Its diet consists of ants,beetles and other invertebrates.

Slaty backed Thornbill.


The Tasmanian Thornbill and other species.

The Tasmanian Thornbill Acanthiza ewingii {see header photograph}, is a small brown bird of the group which is only found in Tasmania and the islands in the Bass Strait. It frequents rain forests, wet woodlands and woodlands,along with scrub land. It occurs exclusively in cold and wet regions.

It is around four inches long {10 cm } with alight brown plumage with a grey streaked breast. The back,wings and the tail are brown with black markings,the under tail is white. The sexes are indistinguishable in the field.

Other species include the Western Thornbill, A.inornata,endemic to Australia.. The slender billed Thornbill, A.iredalei, includes three sub -species . The Mountain Thornbill, A. katherinii ,north east Queensland. Striated Thornbill, A.lineata {see image right.}. New Guinea Thornbill, A.murina. The Buff rumped Thornbill, , A.reguloides,of open forests land in east Australia,around Sydney south of Chichilla and east of Cobar. The Slaty backed Thornbill. A.robustirostris,and the Chestnut rumped Thronbill, A. uropygialis,which is a plain pale Thornbill, endemic to Australia. there are a number of sub species.

Striated Thornbill.

Taken in New South Wales.
Taken in New South Wales. | Source

Pair of Chestnut-rumped Thornbills.


Western Spinebill. Male

Taken south of Perth Western Australia
Taken south of Perth Western Australia | Source

Western Spinebill. Female. They are smaller and plainer than the male.


The genus Acanthorhynchus

The genus Acanthorhynchus{ which translates as Spinebill}, are a group of birds about six inches long and belong to the family Meliphagidae {the honey eaters}. They are native to Australia and consists of two species. The Western Spinebill, Acanthorynchus supercilious. As its common name suggests is found in south western ,western Australia,where it inhabits heath,and woodland localities. Like all Honey-eaters this species feeds on nectar.

The male has a black crown, white eye stripe,black mask,white chin,and an orange-chestnut throat,bordered below by white and black bands. The female is plainer with a pale chestnut red collar band. She has a plain brown ,black and white undersides. The white outer tail feathers are usually conspicuous.

The nest is composed from bark,plant stems and down,strengthened by spiders webs. The female deposits one or two eggs per season. The female undertakes the main incubation duties. The location of the nest can be low down or in the outer foliage of taller trees.. It breeds from September until January, This species often falls victim to the Pallid Cuckoo,whose egg is incubated at the expense of her own. The Western Spinebill is locally nomadic.

Eastern spinebill. Male


Eastern Spinebill. Female


Eastern spine bill, Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris.

The eastern Spinebill, Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris, frequents south eastern Australia in forests and woodland regions,but will visit gardens in urban areas. Its specific name of tenuirostris is derived from Latin and translates as 'narrow-billed'.

the bird is easily recognized by its long down-curved bill. During flight the outer tail feathers are prominently displayed. The males have a grey-black crown which extends in a black line on either side of the breast. The breast itself and the throat are white with a rufous patch in the centre of the throat. The wings and lower back are dark grey,and the under parts and upper back are buff coloured. The females although similar to the males have less distinct markings.. The birds are six inches long and weigh four point two grams.

They are birds of various habitat,but primarily in dry open forests especially made up of Eucalyptus trees. Their diet consists of nectar and arthropods in more or less equal proportions and they spend a lot of time foraging at flowers,they hover almost in the manner of the hummingbird while extracting the nectar.

This species has been recorded breeding throughout much of the year,however, the main breeding season occurs between October and December. The male will help the female to gather nesting material but it is she alone that undertakes the task of construction. When completed she commences to lay 1-4 eggs,though two seems to be the average number. The incubation period lasts for around sixteen days. The resulting chicks are cared for by both parents until they are able to fend for themselves. Up to four broods a year may be raised by each pair.

Acanthornis magna. The Scrub Tit.

Myrtle Forest, Collinsvale Tasmania ,Australia.
Myrtle Forest, Collinsvale Tasmania ,Australia. | Source

The genus Acanthornis.

Acanthornis magna, the Scrub Tit,was once placed in the genus Sericornis {Scrub Wrens}, which it resembles. It is another species endemic to Tasmania and King Island in Australia. It is a bird of temperate rain forests,Beech and Eucalyptus woodland. It is a secretive bird and can be confused with the Tasmanian Thornbill {above} or the Tasmanian -scrub Wren.

The bird is just short of five inches long and weighs ten grams. It is has a light cream coloured throat,breast and belly. The head is brown, the eye is brown,with a black centre and a white eye ring which helps to identify the species.

They tend to forage individually,in pairs, or in small family groups, near the ground,taking insects and other invertebrates among the bark,leaf litter or from the foliage. it will associate with mixed species feeding flocks. It breeds in September to December,laying Three lightly spotted eggs in a woven,dome nest,with a side entrance. It is located about one to three metres above the ground.

Although not common,it may be encountered in suitable habitat throughout Tasmania with the exception of Flinders Island.

Collared Sparrowhawk. Accipiter species.

Taken in south east Queensland Australia
Taken in south east Queensland Australia | Source

Chinese Sparrowhawk. Juvenile in flight.

Mount Tumpa North Sulawes.
Mount Tumpa North Sulawes. | Source

The genus Accipiter.

The genus Accipiter is a genus of birds of prey,which include the Goshawks and the Sparrow hawks. The eurasian Sparrowhawk has been reviewed in detail in my series 'Birds of Europe' {}.

The genus consists of over 50 species. they range in size tremendously from the little Sparrowhawk, Accipiter minullus, seven-nine inches long, to the Eurasian or Northern Goshawk where the larger females are up to twenty five inches long. In the confines of this article I will review some of the less familiar species and commence with the Chinese Sparrowhawk, Accipiter soloensis,which is also referred to as the Chinese Goshawk, or Grey frog hawk.

It is a bird that is found in Tawain,Korea,and Siberia, and winters in Indonesia and the Philippines. It feed mainly on frogs but will take lizards. It lives mainly in the forests. The estimated population is between 10,000-100,000 birds. They are not a bird of conservation concern.

Cooper's hawk.

Toronto Canada.
Toronto Canada. | Source

Shirka- Male


Cooper's Hawk and the Shirka

Accipiter cooperii, the Cooper's Hawk is a medium sized bird native to North America,from Canada to northern Mexico. The male in common with many birds of prey are smaller than the female. It is named after William Cooper an American naturalist. The birds are of least concern as far as conservation is concerned.

Accipter badius the Shirka, is a small bird of prey,widely distributed in Asia and Africa. It is sometimes referred to as the Banded Goshawk. It is very similar to the Eurasian Sparrowhawk,and the Chinese Goshawk.They are not a species of conservation concern.

Christmas island Goshawk. Illustration.

From a book 'A monograph of Christmas Island,by Charles William Andrews 1866-1924.
From a book 'A monograph of Christmas Island,by Charles William Andrews 1866-1924. | Source

Gundlach's hawk, is endemic to Cuba and is an Endangered species.


Accipiter genus members that are considered to be of Conservation Concern

The Grey bellied Hawk,of South America,Accipiter poliogaster.,is classed as being Near Threatened.

The Christamas Goshawk, {image right} Accipter natlais, is a threatened species,endemic to Christmas Island an Australian territory. It is classed as Endangered.

The White bellied Goshawk, Accipter haplochrous, is endemic to New Caledonia { South west pacific.} is classed as Near Threatened.

The Moluccan Goshawk, Accipiter henicogrammus, is endemic to Halmahera,Indonesia,and is classed as Near threatened.

New Britain Goshawk, Accipiter princeps, is endemic to Papua New Guinea,and classed as Vulnerable/Near threatened.

Henst's Goshawk, Accipiter henstii, is endemic to Madagascar is classed as Near threatened.

Nicobar Sparrowhawk, Accipiter buteri,is endemic to Nicobar Islands of India, is classed as being Vulnerable.

Slaty Mantled Goshawk, Accipiter luteoschistaceus, is endemic to Papua New Guinea,classedas being Vulnerable.

Imitator Goshawk, Accipiter imatator, is found in Papua New Guinea,and the Soloman Islands. It is classed as being Vulnerable.

Dwarf Sparrowhawk, Accipiter nanus, endemic to Indonesian Islands of Sulawesi and Buton and classed as being Near Threatened.

Rufous necked Sparrowhawk, is endemic to the Maluka islands of Indonesia. Near Threatened.

Madagascar Sparrowhawk., Accipiter madagascariensis, endemic to Madagascar,Near threatened.

Semi-collared Hawk. Accipiter gundlachi, is endemic to Cuba, and is classed as endangered.

It is sad fact that all the above species are in danger to one degree or another, because of man and his impact on nature.


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    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi Deb,

      I know you like your birds of prey so I was hoping you would enjoy this. Thank you for your loyal follow,it is appreciated. Best wishes to you.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      These are all interesting and fine looking birds. Your Gundlach's Hawk reminds me a bit of our Red-tailed Hawk.

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Lancashire north west England


      Hi Mary, Your comments are always encouraging and appreciated. Best wishes to you.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      3 years ago from New York

      As always, beautiful! Your choice of photos is amazing. I love the close look at birds that are new to me!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      You're welecome DAL.

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Lancashire north west England


      Hello Devika, Thank you so much for your encouraging comments. They are appreciated. Best wishes to you.

      Kristen Howe,

      Your welcome and Thank you too, for your kind comments. Best wishes to you.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Lovely photos for this interesting hub on birds. Some I never heard of. Thanks for sharing.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Beautiful birds. You always make such an effort in producing informative and useful hubs.


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