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Tawny Grassbird

Cincloramphus timoriensis

The Tawny Grassbird, a member of the Locustellidae family, is a robust songbird often seen flitting through grasslands and reedbeds. It boasts a streaked appearance above with a rich brown cap that is quite distinctive. Below, its plumage is paler, complemented by a long, graduated tail that it carries with a certain elegance.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the Tawny Grassbird, look for its unstreaked rufous cap and the rufous fringes on the flight feathers of its folded wing. The bird's underparts are unstreaked, and it has a long, drooping tail and rufous rump. The male's varied song is a helpful identifier, especially during display flights or when sung from exposed perches in the spring and summer months.

Habitat

The Tawny Grassbird is typically found in coastal lowlands within Australia, favoring rank grasslands, sedges, reeds, and rushes, often near wetlands. An isolated population has been discovered in Alice Springs, suggesting some adaptability in habitat preference.

Distribution

This species has a broad distribution, with 10 identified subspecies across Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines. In Australia, it is mainly found in the northern and eastern regions.

Behaviour

The Tawny Grassbird is known for its active feeding on insects and its rich and varied vocalizations. It is also recognized for its nesting habits, constructing well-hidden grass cups for its eggs.

Song & Calls

The Tawny Grassbird's vocal repertoire includes loud, grumpy churring calls and a longer call that starts with a series of ticks and ends with an explosive descending trill. In flight, it emits a metallic chucking sound. Its alarm call is a harsh, repeated "tjik" or "jk-jk."

Breeding

Nesting within long grass, the Tawny Grassbird lays clutches of 3 freckled reddish eggs in well-concealed grass cups, keeping its future progeny hidden from potential predators.

Similar Species

The Tawny Grassbird can be distinguished from the related Little Grassbird by its larger size, stouter bill, more rufous plumage, and longer tail.

Diet and Feeding

Insects form the primary diet of the Tawny Grassbird, which it actively forages for amongst the grasses of its habitat.

Conservation Status

The Tawny Grassbird is currently classified as Least Concern due to its extensive range and stable population. Although the exact population size is not quantified, it is not believed to be close to the thresholds for Vulnerable. However, there is some concern about population declines due to the persistent grazing of tall grasses, which are crucial to the bird's habitat.

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