Family Thornbills (Acanthizidae)

Least Concern

Pilotbird (Pycnoptilus floccosus)


French: Pycnoptile compagnon German: Rötelkehlhuscher Spanish: Acantiza piloto

Pycnoptilus floccosus


, 1851,

Brindabella Ranges towards Murrumbidgee River, New South Wales, Australia


Taxonomic placement unresolved. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. f. floccosus Gould, 1851 – Snowy Mts of New South Wales (from Brindabella Range S to Kosciusko escarpment), in SE Australia.
  • P. f. sandlandi Mathews, 1912 – coastal New South Wales (S from Newcastle) and Victoria (E from Melbourne).
  • Descriptive notes

    17–19 cm; 27 g. Large, plump, big-headed, stout-billed ground-dwelling acanthizid with long and full rounded tail, rather bulbous-looking forehead and prominent eye;... read more


    Loud, rich, ringing, piercingly sweet musical call of 3–5 syllables, upward-inflected, with... read more


    Ground layer of temperate wet sclerophyll forests, occasionally in dry sclerophyll, and moist... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insectivorous; occasionally eats seeds and fruit. Arthropods taken include beetles (Coleoptera), wasps (Hymenoptera), ants (Formicidae),... read more


    Season Aug–Feb; double-brooded, maybe even triple-brooded. Apparently breeds as monogamous pair. Nest quite large, domed, with oval... read more


    Resident; in territory throughout year. Some local winter wandering possible. Of 67 recoveries of... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Restricted-range species: present in Eastern Australia EBA. Fairly common within its relatively small range. Has suffered some contraction of range... read more

    Recommended citation

    Gregory, P. (2019). Pilotbird (Pycnoptilus floccosus). 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 16 February 2019).