Family Thornbills (Acanthizidae)

Least Concern

Slaty-backed Thornbill (Acanthiza robustirostris)


French: Acanthize ardoisé German: Graurücken-Dornschnabel Spanish: Acantiza pizarrosa

Acanthiza robustirostris


, 1903,

Day Dawn, Murchison district, Western Australia


Sister to A. iredalei. Monotypic.


Arid and semi-arid regions from WC Western Australia E to S Northern Territory, N South Australia and SW Queensland.

Descriptive notes

9·5–11·5 cm; 6 g. Medium-sized rather plain thornbill with relatively stout bill. Plumage is slate-grey above, with fine blackish streaking on forehead... read more


Song a “chwip-wip, cheeeooweep chwip chwip” series, interspersed with sharp higher-... read more


Primarily mulga (Acacia aneura) woodland with understorey of emu-bush (Eremophila... read more

Food and feeding

Insectivorous. Usually seen singly or in pairs, sometimes in small groups of up to eight individuals, with smaller groups likely to be... read more


Season Jul–Nov; sometimes double-brooded. Reported as breeding in pairs, but very poorly known. Nest built by female, inconspicuous,... read more


Presumed to be sedentary, although some suggestion of local seasonal wandering.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Uncommon and poorly known species of remote semi-arid and arid regions. Much of its habitat is in designated national parks and reserves, and the... read more

Recommended citation

Gregory, P. (2019). Slaty-backed Thornbill (Acanthiza robustirostris). 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 19 February 2019).