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Brown Thornbill - Acanthiza pusilla

Brown Thornbill

Acanthiza pusilla

Family: Pardalotidae (Pardalotes, Bristlebirds, Scrubwrens, Thornbills and allies, 30 species in Australia)
Size: 10 cm
Distribution: Within about 300 km of the coasts of NSW, South QLD, Most of VIC and TAS, small parts of SE SA
Status: Common to Locally Uncommon
Habitat: Most forested areas where there is enough undergrowth
References: Simpson and Day, Reader's Digest

The Brown Thornbill is a very common bird in the Blue Mountains of NSW. They almost always appear in flocks of several birds up to dozens of them. They are hard to get good photos of since they move around so often so I was stoked when I got these ones.

I am fairly sure these photos are Brown Thornbills rather than Striated Thornbills (or another Thornbill) due to the rufous (reddish-brown) around the rump and inner tail, and especially due to the reddish coloured eye. According to Simpson and Day there is no other Thornbill or related bird with a reddish brown eye in the East of New South Wales. The Striated Thornbill is also common in the Blue Mountains and I find it hard to tell the difference, without a close up of the eye like in the photo below.

Brown Thornbill - Acanthiza pusilla
Photo: Blaxland, Blue Mountains NSW. High Resolution (1972 x 1450)

Brown Thornbill - Acanthiza pusilla
Photo: Blaxland, Blue Mountains NSW. High Resolution (1370 x 997)

Brown Thornbill - Acanthiza pusilla
Photo: Blaxland, Blue Mountains NSW. High Resolution (1674 x 1162)

Brown Thornbill - Acanthiza pusilla
Artwork: John Gould, 'The Birds of Australia', 1848. Original Scanned Image.

Some Birdwatching Resources


Common Birds of Australia (Green Guide), Peter Rowland Common Birds of Australia (Green Guide), Peter Rowland. A smaller, more introductory book. It won a Whitley Award for best zoological book. The publishers say "This book provides an introduction to the major bird groups, with an emphasis on those that the amateur naturalist and nature-lover is most likely to see. The book is organized into six sections which cover birds of prey, waders and waterbirds, seabirds, songbirds, pigeons and parrots and other birds. Information is organized simply, with individual species or group entries describing key characteristics — where they are found, food requirements and behavioural habits. Each entry is accompanied by a colour photograph and, where appropriate, distribution maps. A key feature of the text is the "gee whiz" spreads which answer many of the most commonly asked questions about why birds do what they do, revealing facts and providing practical information for the amateur enthusiast. In addition, fact panels interspersed throughout highlight surprising snippets of information.

Click here to purchase from Australia $16.99 AUD


Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds, Peter Slater, Pat Slater and Raoul Slater Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds, Peter Slater, Pat Slater and Raoul Slater. This is a smaller field guide, and its advantage is it is easy to carry around. Its size is 21.3 x 11.4 x 2.8 centimetres, or 8.4 x 4.5 x 1.1 inches in the old scale. So it is a good one to get if you want to have your field guide with you out in the field. Unlike most of the field guides it also has illustrations of the eggs of all the birds that breed in Australia. It has very good reviews on Amazon.

Click here to purchase from Australia $29.49 AUD
Click here to purchase from Amazon (about $20 USD)

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Brown Thornbill - Acanthiza pusilla

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