Southern Whiteface

Did you know?

The Southern Whiteface  forages in groups of 10-15 (or larger!) and mixes with other feeding species such as Yellow-rumped Thornbills, covering ground in short half-hops, one foot in front of the other, picking up food as they go.

Continual rapid twittering on one note, flight call is a brisk 'wit, wit-awit'.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
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Breeding season: 
June to December but inland breeding time is influenced by rainfall.
Clutch Size: 
2-5, usually 3 or 4
20 days
Conservation Status
Associated Plants
Plants associated with this species
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
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What does it look like?

The Southern Whiteface is a small, sturdy, grey-brown bird with a stubby finch-like bill, white forehead with black margin and a pale eye. Underparts are pale grey with olive-buff flanks. In the south-west subspecies the flanks are mottled cinnamon-chestnut. In flight it flits its tail, which has a broad black tailband with white tips. 

Similar species: 

These birds are easily identified if seen clearly, otherwise they could be confused with the Chestnut-breasted Whiteface or the Banded Whiteface.

Where does it live?

The Southern Whiteface prefers the drier habitats of southern Australia.  In Queensland they are found only as far north as Birdsville and east to Darling Downs, in NSW east to about Tenterfield and south-west to the shale areas in the Sydney region. In Victoria they occur mostly in the drier foothills north of the Divide, in SA south to Eyre Peninsula. They are also found in southern Northern Territory and southern WA except the far south-west corner. They are not found in Tasmania.


Dry open forests and woodland and inland scrubs of mallee, mulga and saltbush are the preferred habitat of Southern Whiteface, especially areas with fallen timber or dead trees and stumps.

Seasonal movements: 

Southern Whiteface are locally common birds and are not migratory.

What does it do?

Feeding mainly on insects and spiders, the Southern Whiteface forages on the ground and low in shrubbery where they may also take seeds and leaves.


In breeding season the Southern Whiteface builds an untidy domed nest of grass, rootlets and bark. Nests are built in a hollow limb, stump or fence post or in the foliage of shrubs and small trees, in sheds or in nest- boxes. 

Living with us

Population declines of these birds appear to be due to habitat clearance for agriculture and degradation of woodland understorey for grazing.

Some studies suggest that mining operations may also impact negatively on the species, although the exact cause for their decline (e.g. habitat degradation, noise disturbance, exposure to pollutants) in mining areas is unknown.

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