Inland Thornbill

Did you know?

Inland Thornbills, unlike other thornbills, carry their tails cocked, almost like a fairy-wren.

Similar to the Brown Thornbill but harsher. It has a spirited territorial song and a high-pitched 'see-see' contact call, and will mimic other birds.
Facts and Figures
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Breeding season: 
July to December
Clutch Size: 
19 days
Nestling Period: 
17 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Inland Thornbill is the common thornbill of inland Australia. Its tail is often held cocked. It has grey-brown upperparts, with black and white scalloping on the forehead. The rump is bright rufous, the tail has a dark band with white tips.The underparts are off-white, streaked blackish on throat to lower breast. The eye is deep red. The sexes are similar, with the adult males being larger than the females, and young birds are only slightly different to the adult, with slightly paler and more diffuse streaking. This species is also known as the Broad-tailed Thornbill.

Similar species: 

The Inland Thornbill can be confused with other thornbills, including the very similar Brown ThornbillA. pusilla, the Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, A. uropygialis, and the Slaty-backed Thornbill, A. robustirostris, all of which have a similar contrasting rufous rump-patch. The Inland Thornbill has a slightly longer tail, which is often held cocked like a wren's tail. The Brown Thornbill tends to be slightly more rufous (reddish) on the upperparts and forehead, the Chestnut-rumped Thornbill has a distinctive off-white eye, and the Slaty-backed Thornbill has a bluish tinge to its upperparts.

Where does it live?

The Inland Thornbill is widespread in inland Australia, from north-western Victoria, western New South Wales and Queensland, to central Northern Territory, and all of Western Australia south of the Tropic of Capricorn as well all of South Australia except the south-east. There is a large overlap with the range of the Brown Thornbill along the slopes of Great Dividing Range from Queensland to Victoria, with the Brown Thornbills preferring eucalypt woodlands and forest and the Inland Thornbills favouring the drier Callitris and mallee woodlands.


The Inland Thornbill lives in dry eucalypt and Callitris woodlands, mallee and acacia scrublands. In south-western Australia it also occurs in wetter coastal habitats, including sandplain heath and karri and jarrah forests.

Seasonal movements: 

Sedentary, locally nomadic.

What does it do?

The Inland Thornbill feeds on small insects and spiders, usually foraging in pairs or in small parties, in the dense understorey of shrubs and the foliage of trees. It occasionally takes a few seeds and little vegetable matter. At times, mainly in the non-breeding season, it will also feed with mixed flocks of other species of small birds.


The Inland Thornbill builds a small domed nest, like that of fairy-wrens, of bark strips and dry grasses, lightly bound with spider webs and lined with feathers, with a hooded entrance hole. The nests are placed in low shrubs, in forks among low twigs or foliage.

Living with us

Habitat clearance has caused declines in some areas although they can persist in some developed areas in shelter belts and road verges. Near Perth, fires in the nesting habitat of the Inland Thornbills resulted in lack of breeding for five years.

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