Brown Thornbill

Species: Acanthiza pusilla

(Birds of Drouin booklet P10)


Size 100-110mm

Sexes are similar. Upperparts are a rich olive-brown. Forehead is scalloped dark and tan. Eye is red. Rump is a rufous-brown. Underparts are cream to white. Chin and throat heavily streaked dark. Belly and flanks are grey-pale yellow.


Vocal all year. A loud (for a little bird) and deep ‘pee-orr’ is identifiable. Other calls include a soft ‘chip’, a plaintive whistle and a harsh buzzing alarm. Some Brown Thornbills will often mimic other species.



(Map credit:

From about Proserpine in Qld to just past the Vic-SA border. All of Tasmania. Common, sedentary.


Builds a domed nest of bark and grass in low understory. Breeds from September to December. Brown Thornbill nests are a favourite nest for Horsefield and Fantailed Cuckoos to parasitize.


Brown Thornbills will occupy understory in wet rainforest, eucalypt and acacia woodlands, scrub and wetland fringes, coastal dune woodland, saltmarsh, parks and gardens. They forage for insects in the mid to low understory in small family groups, sometimes with other species such as White-browed Scrubwrens and Superb Fairy-wrens.