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17

Yellow Thornbill

(Acanthiza nana)
Alternate name(s): "Little Thornbill", "Little Tit", "Yellow-breasted Tomtit", "Yellow Dicky"
Size: 9-10 cm
Weight: 5-8 g

Similar
species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Yellow Thornbill at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "nana"

ADULT

Sex unknown

Frontal view of a Yellow Thornbill (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, January 2013]

Near-lateral view of a Yellow Thornbill (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, December 2012]

Lateral view of a Yellow Thornbill (photo courtesy of A. Campbell)
[Mount McEuen, QLD, August 2017]

Lateral view from below of a Yellow Thornbill (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, May 2015]

Frontal view of a soaking wet Yellow Thornbill (photo courtesy of A. Campbell)
[Mount McEuen, QLD, August 2017]

Race "modesta"

ADULT

Sex unknown

Frontal view of a Yellow Thornbill
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2017]

Frontal/ventral view of a Yellow Thornbill; note how this bird has a more orange throat than others
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2017]

Close-up near-frontal view of a Yellow Thornbill "trapped" in an open garage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2023]

Near-lateral view of a Yellow Thornbill
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2017]

Close-up lateral view of a Yellow Thornbill "trapped" in an open garage looking at the observer
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2023]

Close-up lateral view of a Yellow Thornbill "trapped" in an open garage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2023]

Lateral view of a Yellow Thornbill hunting for small insects in an Acacia salicina
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2011]

Close-up lateral/ventral view of a Yellow Thornbill
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2016]

Close-up lateral/ventral view of a Yellow Thornbill
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2017]

Lateral/ventral view of a preening Yellow Thornbill
[Bullawa Creek SCA, near Narrabri, NSW, April 2019]

Near-dorsal view of a Yellow Thornbill
[Mt. Kaputar NP, near Narrabri, NSW, October 2020]

Close-up near-dorsal/ventral view of a Yellow Thornbill "trapped" in an open garage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2023]

Near-dorsal/ventral view of a Yellow Thornbill
[Near Narrabri, NSW, September 2019]

Near-dorsal/ventral view of a Yellow Thornbill
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2016]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Jul - Dec Eggs: 3 Incubation period: ? Fledging age: ?

Nest building: Female & male Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male

Nest

"bungobittah", "lar", "malunna", "jindi" [bundjalung] = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Dome Material: Bark fibres, dry grass, webs Height above ground: 3 - 15 m

Yellow Thornbills have the smallest, least conspicuous nests of all thornbills. These nests are always built in trees, not in shrubs. Sometimes the nests are decorated, e.g. with spiders' egg sacs.

Yellow Thornbill, race "nana", entering its nest (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, December 2016]

Yellow Thornbill, race "nana", looking out of its nest (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[St. Albans, NSW, December 2016]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "mirk", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena", "pum-pum" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 16 x 12 mm Colour: Creamy, with mid-brown to chestnut speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial?/ roaming? Mobility: Sedentary/dispersive Elementary unit: Family clan

Yellow Thornbills are furtive little birds that can be hard to find, because they tend to remain in trees (e.g. Cypress pines), mostly in shady areas, moving around quickly.

Yellow Thornbills are often seen by us foraging in trees together with other thornbills (mostly Inland Thornbills or Brown Thornbills).

Close-up lateral view of a Yellow Thornbill approaching a bird bath
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2022]

Close-up view of a Yellow Thornbill in a bird bath
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2022]

Frontal view of a Yellow Thornbill shaking dry its plumage(!)
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2023]

This Yellow Thornbill is wet from dew bathing on the leaves of an ironbark eucalypt
[Eulah Creek, NSW, June 2023]

Food, Diet

To the best of our knowledge, all thornbills feed on small insects that they pick off leaves. As shown in the photo below, this is at least true for Yellow Thornbills.

Close-up ventral view of a Yellow Thornbill with an insect it has just caught
[Eulah Creek, NSW, April 2016]

Near-lateral view of a Yellow Thornbill - it is not after the Acacia salicina's nectar, but after whatever insect is feeding on the nectar
[Eulah Creek, NSW, May 2011]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

ylthbil_20171101.m4a modesta
(NW NSW)
Contact calls © MD
ylthbil_20230603.mp3 (NW NSW) Yellow Thornbill alarm call & Yellow-rumped Thornbill departure © MD
ylthbil_20220521.m4a modesta
(NW NSW)
Various (mob) © MD
ylthbil_20171101_2.m4a modesta
(NW NSW)
Various (mob foraging) © MD

More Yellow Thornbill sound recordings are available at xeno-canto.org .

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.