Family Fairy-wrens (Maluridae)

Least Concern

Grey Grasswren (Amytornis barbatus)


French: Amytis gris German: Brauengrasschlüpfer Spanish: Maluro gris

Amytornis barbatus

Favaloro and McEvey

, 1968,

Teurika, Bulloo River, north-west New South Wales, Australia


Detailed study#R confirms that this species stands apart genetically from other grasswrens; placed alone in subgenus Maluropsis. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. b. diamantina Schodde & Christidis, 1987 – Cooper Creek and Diamantina R drainage, in SW Queensland and NE South Australia.
  • A. b. barbatus Favaloro & McEvey, 1968 – Bulloo R and Caryapundy Swamp, in extreme SW Queensland and NW New South Wales.
  • Descriptive notes

    18–21 cm; 15–22 g. Medium sized grasswren, very pale with distinctive black-and-white facial markings, very long tail. Male nominate race has white-streaked black... read more


    Series of high-pitched, ringing, metallic notes, “trip-ip-ip”; lacks elaborate song of other... read more


    Swampy floodplains dominated by lignum (Muehlenbeckia cunninghamii) and swamp canegrass (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Seeds and insects. Feeds on or close to ground, through shrubs and in litter beneath them. In dry seasons, individuals gather in favoured... read more


    Records of nests with eggs or young in Jul–Aug. Appears to breed as territorial pairs; one record of extra bird seen at nest. Nest a... read more


    Probably sedentary. Only one study: of 193 marked individuals, 23 recaught not less than one year... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Restricted-range species: present in Bulloo and Diamantina Rivers Secondary Area. Locally common. Nominate race occurs in a single location that... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rowley, I. & Russell, E. (2018). Grey Grasswren (Amytornis barbatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 October 2018).