Buff-rumped Thornbill

Did you know?

 Buff-rumped Thornbills are usually found in small groups of up to 20 and are quite gregarious. They generally form larger groupings, or clans, in the non-breeding season, but split up into smaller groups in the breeding season.

The Buff-rumped Thornbill has a number of calls. Its song is described as: an animated rapid rattle on two notes, jingling and 'fairy-like'; or as a rapidly repeated musical tinkling on two alternating notes. It also has a Chip call.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
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Breeding season: 
July to early February
Clutch Size: 
2 to 4
17 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Buff-rumped Thornbill is mostly olive-brown to olive on its upper side with a buff coloured forehead which has paler scalloping. It has a contrasting buffish or pale yellow rump patch and its tail has a broad, blackish band and paler tip. It is mostly cream-buff to yellow on its under side. It has a rather stout bill and a pale iris. There are four subspecies which are all fairly similar to each other. The  Buff-rumped Thornbill is also known as Buff-tailed or Varied Thornbill, Tit or Tit-warbler; Buff-rumped Tit or Tit-warbler; Bark, Scaly-breasted or South Australian Tit.

Similar species: 

The Yellow-rumped Thornbill A. chrysorrhoa has a brighter yellow rump,  spotted white forehead and slightly darker eye. The  Slender-billed, A. iredalei, has a greyer back. In north-east Queensland the Buff-rumped could be confused with the Yellow Thornbill, A. nana, which is more yellow and has a dark eye.

Where does it live?

The Buff-rumped Thornbill is found in eastern Queensland south of the Cape York Peninsula, in eastern and southern New South Wales, in much of Victoria and in the south-east corner of South Australia.


The Buff-rumped Thornbill lives in open forests and woodlands with an open or sparse understory. It is often found in the foothills of ranges but its range can extend from the coast to high sub-alpine areas.

Seasonal movements: 

The Buff-rumped Thornbill stays in much the same area all year round. Some seasonal movements have been observed, but the bird is also very territorial.

What does it do?

The Buff-rumped Thornbill lives mostly on insects but will eat seeds sometimes.It will forage both on the ground and in trees, usually in a small flock


 In the breeding season Buff-rumped Thornbills work together as a pair or as a co-operateive group of usually one female and 1 to 3 males. Of the group only one (presumably the female) builds the nest or incubates the eggs. The nest is oval, bulky and domed. It has a side entrance with a small hood. The nest is made of bark strips, dried grass and moss. It is often bound with spider web and usually lined with fur, hair or plant down. The nest is often in a crack behind loose bark on a tree trunk or in a crevice or hole in a tree trunk. It can also be on the ground, in tussock, in a tree fork, or in a shrub. All members of the co-operative breeding group may join in feeding the chicks, but once the chicks had fledged and once the breeding group has rejoined a wider group, or clan, all members of the clan may join in feeding the fledglings.

Living with us

Populations of Buff-rumped Thornbills have declined in some areas impacted by urban development. They can sometimes be found in modified habitats but not in heavily grazed areas nor in pine plantations.

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