Family Grasshopper-warblers and Grassbirds (Locustellidae)

Least Concern

Papuan Grassbird (Cincloramphus macrurus)


French: Mégalure papoue German: Papuaschilfsänger Spanish: Yerbera papú

Sphenoeacus macrurus


, 1876,

Naiabui, Hall Sound, New Guinea


Previously placed in Megalurus. Traditionally treated as conspecific with C. timoriensis, but no apparent interbreeding where they meet in SC New Guinea. Large race alpinus might be a separate species. Extensive review of the entire complex required; present species often believed to comprise two groups, lowland (mayri, interscapularis) and montane (all of the other taxa), which possess different numbers of rectrices (10 and 12, respectively). Birds from alpine grasslands of Mt Hagen and Mt Wilhelm (in Central Highlands) described as race montanus, but considered to fall within range of variation of alpinus. Populations in C ranges of Snow Mts of uncertain racial affinity, tentatively included in nominate; those from Tolokiwa (W of New Britain) presumed to belong with interscapularis. Races mayri and wahgiensis have been included in nominate (and harterti might also belong there)#R, but note differences in number of tail feathers between mayri and nominate#R. Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. m. mayri (E. J. O. Hartert, 1930) – lowlands of N New Guinea (from Humboldt Bay E to Astrolabe Bay).
  • C. m. interscapularis (P. L. Sclater, 1880) – Lowland Papuan Grassbird – Bismarck Archipelago (New Hanover, New Ireland and New Britain, also Tolokiwa I).
  • C. m. stresemanni (E. J. O. Hartert, 1930) – Arfak Mts, in NW New Guinea.
  • C. m. harterti (Mayr, 1931) – Huon Peninsula, in NE New Guinea.
  • C. m. wahgiensis (Mayr & Gilliard, 1951) – E New Guinea, from Wahgi Valley E to Okapa area and S in Central Highlands to Karimui.
  • C. m. alpinus (Mayr & Rand, 1935) – alpine grasslands in WC & E New Guinea, including Snow Mts, Telefomin area, Central Highlands (Mt Giluwe, Mt Hagen and Mt Wilhelm) and Wharton Range.
  • C. m. macrurus (Salvadori, 1876) – Upland Papuan Grassbird – C ranges of Snow Mts, Southern Highlands Province (L Kutubu and near Mendi) and SE New Guinea (E from Herzog Mts in N and from Hall Sound in S).
  • Descriptive notes

    20–23 cm; c. 40 g. A medium-sized, drab grassbird with very long, graduated tail, rectrices tapering to a fine point and often becoming frayed. Nominate race has... read more


    Song described as unmusical, beginning with a series of low, clucking notes, then changing to a... read more


    Expanses of tall, dense grass in open country, also in swamps and forest clearings and by wide... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods and other invertebrates; some grass and sedge seeds also taken, and even pine (Pinus) needles recorded. Typically... read more


    Dates seem to indicate breeding chiefly in wet season or towards end of dry season: eggs reported on New Britain in Dec, and juveniles on... read more


    Seemingly resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not assessed. Status difficult to assess owing to its skulking habits; probably relatively common and widespread throughout most of New Guinea, but seems to be most abundant... read more

    Recommended citation

    Madge, S. (2019). Papuan Grassbird (Cincloramphus macrurus). 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 25 April 2019).