Tawny Grassbird

Did you know?

The song by the male is often given from elevated perches and can be heard from a distance of several hundred metres,

High pitched descending trill or scolding calls jk jk.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
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Breeding season: 
August to January
Clutch Size: 
14 days
Conservation Status
Associated Plants
Plants associated with this species
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

Adult Tawny Grassbirds are rufous-brown with bold blackish streaks on the back. They have a rich rufous cap,  a distinct pale eyebrow and a long tail. Their throat and underparts are largely off-white with a pale rufous-brown wash to sides of breast and belly, flanks, vent and undertail-coverts.  Their eyes are yellow-brown and legs pinkish.  Immature birds are a darker brown with finer streaking.

Similar species: 

The smaller Golden-headed Cisticola has a much shorter tail, the Little Grassbird is duller in plumage and Australian Reed-Warbler has plain, unstreaked plumage.

Where does it live?

Tawny Grassbirds are found scattered in coastal eastern and northern Australia from the Kimberley WA to Shoalhaven NSW. Their range extends inland to the Atherton tableland QLD and to the Moree / Gilgandra area of NSW.


Tawny Grassbirds are mostly found in rank grassland, rushland and sedgelands, often in and round wetlands, including swamps, lagoons, dams, lakes and watercourses, They can also be found in shrublands bordering wetlands or in coastal heath and regularly in crops, grassy paddocks and roadside vegetation. 

Seasonal movements: 

Uncommon sedentary residents, Tawny Grassbirds can occasionally be locally nomadic.

What does it do?

Usually seen singly or in twos Tawny Grassbirds are typically shy and retiring.  This, combined with their plumage and preference for dense habitat, makes observation difficult and prolonged views uncommon. The birds forage for insects, spiders and grasshoppers on the ground amongst grasses and ferns but rarely eat seeds. 


Male Tawny Grassbirds are more obvious during breeding season when they sing in conspicuous display flights or from exposed perches. Breeding males perform their distinctive but brief display flights, mostly in early morning or late afternoon, singing in flight above vegetation, with wings quivering and only partly spread and long tail trailing and drooping down or spread.

The nest is a deep cup, slightly narrowed at rim, and is made of coarse dry blades of grass or rushes, neatly lined with finer grass and sometimes with horse or cow hair. These nests are usually well concealed in rushes, sedges, tussocks of grass or tangles of other vegetation.

Incubation is done by females only.

Living with us

Settlement and grazing may have led to reduced populations and distribution of Tawny Grassbirds and they have been adversely affected by the rapid spread of some introduced grasses.

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