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Species Guide
A photo of a Inland Thornbill (Acanthiza apicalis)
Inland Thornbill

Inland Thornbill

Acanthiza apicalis

The Inland Thornbill (Acanthiza apicalis), a small passerine bird, is a member of the Acanthizidae family. It is characterized by a larger and rounder tail compared to its congeners, with a distinct band of black tipped with white across the ends of the tail feathers. The bird's name, apicalis, is derived from Latin, meaning 'tipped', a nod to this distinctive tail feature.

Identification Tips

Adult Inland Thornbills measure approximately 11.5 cm in length. They can be identified by their white speckling on the forehead, as opposed to the rufous speckling of the similar Brown Thornbill (A. pusilla). The Inland Thornbill is less grey and has a larger size than other Acanthiza species. Their calls include a high-pitched tsee-tsee and they are adept at mimicking the calls of other bird species.


Inland Thornbills are found in a variety of habitats, from arid woodlands and scrubs, including the mulga of the Mallee and the Gibson Desert, to mangrove forests in southwestern Western Australia, dense forests, and coastal heaths.


This species is widespread across Australia, inhabiting regions such as southwestern Western Australia, eastern South Australia, northwestern Victoria, central New South Wales, Queensland, and inland southern Australia.


Inland Thornbills are long-lived birds, with recorded instances of individuals living over seven years. They are typically found foraging in the foliage of trees and dense understory in small parties or pairs, and occasionally in mixed flocks with other small birds.

Song & Calls

The Inland Thornbill's vocal repertoire includes several calls similar to the Brown Thornbill, as well as a distinctive high-pitched tsee-tsee. They are also proficient mimics, capable of imitating a variety of other bird species.


The Inland Thornbill is believed to breed in pairs, constructing domed nests near the ground in shrubs. The nests are made of dry grass and bark fragments bound by cobwebs, with a side entrance near the top, and lined with feathers and soft grass. Breeding season spans from July to December, with clutches typically consisting of three white eggs speckled with reddish markings.

Similar Species

The Brown Thornbill (A. pusilla) is the species most similar in appearance to the Inland Thornbill. However, the Brown Thornbill is slightly smaller and has rufous speckling on the forehead.

Diet and Feeding

Inland Thornbills primarily feed on spiders and small insects, foraging in the foliage rather than on the ground. They are generalist feeders, often seen in shrubs-canopy.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the Inland Thornbill as Least Concern, with a stable population that is not limited to niche habitats and does not meet the criteria for a more threatened status.

Threats and Human Interaction

While the relationship between habitat destruction and Inland Thornbill populations is not fully understood, they have shown varied responses to logging and wildfires. Some studies suggest they may benefit from selective logging if habitat trees are preserved, while others indicate they struggle to recover after wildfires or droughts, potentially due to poor recolonization abilities.

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Inland Thornbills on Birda


More Australasian Warblers

A photo of a Yellow-rumped Thornbill (Acanthiza chrysorrhoa)

Yellow-rumped Thornbill

Acanthiza chrysorrhoa
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