Chestnut-rumped Thornbill

Did you know?

In heat of day Chestnut-rumped thornbills have been seen sheltering inside roadside culverts where it is cooler.

Long penetrating chirping from tree tops or repeated quiet chirps while feeding. Sometimes mimics.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
Minimum Size: 
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Breeding season: 
June to December
Clutch Size: 
2 -4
19 days
Nestling Period: 
14 days
21 days
Conservation Status
Associated Plants
Plants associated with this species
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
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What does it look like?

As it's name suggests the Chestnut-rumped Thornbill is a pale, plain brownish-grey bird with a rich chestnut rump and a sharp bill.  These birds have a mostly black tail with pale tips and a speckled grey face with white scalloping. Male and female birds look alike but juveniles are slightly lighter in colour. All have white eyes and grey-black bills and legs. 

Chestnut rumped Thornbills are usually found in small flocks , sometimes twos or threes, and sometimes with other thornbills or similar small birds.  Active and restless, Chestnut rumped Thornbills like to forage in shrubs, trees and on the ground, flitting and hopping among foliage and low branches and searching among fallen debris, all the while uttering quiet twittering notes to maintain contact. Their flight is similar to that of other thornbills, flying from cover to cover in low undulating dashes, each undulation accompanied by flirting movement of tail.

Similar species: 

Other Thornbills with rufous brown rumps are the Brown Thornbill, Slaty-backed Thornbill and Inland Thornbill but these species have red eyes which makes it easy to differeniate them from the Chestnut rumped Thornbills with their white eyes. 

Where does it live?

The Chestnut-rumped Thornbill is endemic to mainland Aust. where it is widespread west of Great Divide in southern Queensland, in NSW and in Vic. (particularly in the Mallee but more scattered in Wimmera and Northern Districts). In SA it is found west of Yorke Peninsula and in southern WA away from coastal strip.


The Chestnut-rumped Thornbill is usually found in dry woodlands and timbered grassland, mainly of Mulga and Mallee eucalypts where it forages for insects especially among dead trees and stumps.  It is also common in open pastoral areas, and in areas of saltbush and bluebush.

Seasonal movements: 

Chestnut-rumped Thornbills are are generally sedentary and remain in the same area throughout the year although some individuals have been known to travel long distances.

What does it do?

Mainly insectivorious, the Chestnut-rumped Thornbill does occasionally eat seeds. Most of their food is taken from foliage and branches or from the ground, but these birds also probe for insects beneath loose bark or forage on fallen trees.


Chestnut-rumped Thornbills usually nest in hollows, often vertical, in live or dead trees, or in stumps, logs, fence posts or branches lying on ground. Usually made of dried grasses, strips of bark, moss, lichen and spider web and lined with feathers, wool or fur the nest is small, neat and domed, with a small entrance at the top.

Living with us

 Chestnut-rumped Thornbills have been recorded foraging in roadside shelterbelts and paddocks with scattered trees, either mature or dead, and regenerating saplings. They are also found in farm gardens, and near farm buildings where they sometimes nest in items constructed or left by humans eg.  disused water pipes, old tins, crevices in buildings. 

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