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


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 (Booktopia)

Purchase from Australia (Angus & Robertson)

Click here to purchase from Australia (The Nile) $28.45 AUD (May be unavailable)

Click here to purchase from Australia (Fishpond) May be expensive.

Click here to purchase from Amazon


The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Graham Pizzey and Frank Knight. This is the other of the two best bird field guides for Australia. It is the one preferred by many serious birdwatchers. However I find the pictures a bit dull looking for my taste — the birds all kind of look the same to me, making it harder to remember them in my mind. The illustrations are meant to be the most anatomically correct, though. The text descriptions are better than in Simpson and Day. If you want the most serious bird field guide get this one otherwise get Simpson and Day.

Purchase 9th ed. from Australia (Booktopia)

Purchase 9th ed. from Australia (Angus & Robertson)

Purchase 9th ed. from Australia (Dymocks)

Click here to purchase 9th ed. from Australia (The Nile)

Click here to purchase from Australia (Fishpond)

Click here to preorder the 9th ed. from Amazon

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Brown Thornbill - Acanthiza pusilla

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