Tasmanian Thornbill, Acanthiza ewingii Click to enlarge image
Tasmanian Thornbill, Acanthiza ewingii Image: Purnell Collection
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • IUCN Conservation Status
  • Classification
  • Size Range
    10 cm to 11 cm

Reverend Thomas J. Ewing (d.1876) for whom this bird is named was the headmaster of the Queen's Orphan Schools, Tasmania. John Gould (who first described the bird) stayed with Rev. Ewing during his visit to Tasmania in 1838-39.

What do Tasmanian Thornbills look like?


The Tasmanian Thornbill is a medium sized thornbill very similar to the Brown Thornbill A. pusilla. The two are best told apart by the adage that the Tasmanian Thornbill "wears the white underpants". The adult Tasmanian Thornbill is olive-brown above with rufous-brown suffusion to the forehead; dull rufous-brown rump-patch and prominent rufous brown panel on folded wings. The underparts are off-white with diffuse fine dusky mottling on chin, throat and breast, and clean white undertail-coverts. Juvenile birds are similar to adults but newly fledged birds are fluffier.

Where do Tasmanian Thornbills live?


Occupies similar habitat to that of the Brown Thornbill but somewhat damper. Understory of dense eucalypt forest, temperate rainforest with a well developed scrub understorey. Typically found in wet gullies rather than dry slopes.


Endemic to Tasmania and the islands of Bass Strait.

What do Tasmanian Thornbills eat and how do they communicate?

Feeding and diet

Primarily insectivorous but eats seeds occasionally. The Tasmanian Thornbill is typically arboreal and forages at all levels in the forest, including on the ground. Gleans food from the leaves and the bark of trunks, branches and twigs.


Sweet musical warbling.

What are Tasmanian Thornbills breeding behaviours?

Breeding Behaviour/s

Breeds from September to January. Nests low in dense vegetation such as bracken and dense shrubs. The nest is a neat rounded dome usually covered by a hinged flap that almost covers the entrance hole. The nest is made of green moss, grass and fine strips of bark. 3 to 4 eggs are laid shortly after completion of the nest. Incubation is by the female alone however it is not known how long the eggs are incubated for nor the period from hatching to independence (a challenge for a keen Tasmanian birdwatcher?).

Breeding Season: September to January.