Family Grasshopper-warblers and Grassbirds (Locustellidae)

Least Concern

Tawny Grassbird (Cincloramphus timoriensis)


French: Mégalure fauve German: Rostkopf-Schilfsänger Spanish: Yerbera leonada

Megalurus timoriensis


, 1864,

Timor, Lesser Sundas


Previously placed in Megalurus. Traditionally treated as conspecific with C. macrurus, but no apparent mixed pairings where they meet in SC New Guinea. Philippine races relatively larger in size and have longer tail, may form a third species, arguably with closer affinity to C. macrurus than to present species; smaller Australo-Papuan races (alisteri, muscalis) may be more different bioacoustically from C. timoriensis than Philippine ones#R. Taxonomic status of some island taxa poorly known, as several were described from few or poor specimens, and situation further complicated by two rather different-looking specimens from Timor; present arrangement tentative, and additional research required. Birds from E Australia (SE Queensland, E New South Wales) described as race oweni, but included in alisteri. Ten subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. t. tweeddalei (McGregor, 1908) – Philippine Tawny Grassbird – N & C Philippines (Luzon, Samar, Negros, Panay and adjacent small islands).
  • C. t. mindorensis (Salomonsen, 1953) – NW Philippines (Mindoro).
  • C. t. alopex (Parkes, 1970) – C Philippines (Cebu, Leyte, Bohol).
  • C. t. crex (Salomonsen, 1953) – S Philippines (Mindanao, Basilan).
  • C. t. celebensis (Riley, 1919) – Sulawesi.
  • C. t. amboinensis (Salvadori, 1876) – Ambon, in S Moluccas.
  • C. t. inquirendus (Siebers, 1928) – Sumba, in Lesser Sundas.
  • C. t. timoriensis (Wallace, 1864) – Wallacean Tawny Grassbird – Timor.
  • C. t. muscalis (Rand, 1938) – S New Guinea (Fly R area).
  • C. t. alisteri (Mathews, 1912) – Australian Tawny Grassbird – N & E Australia, from NE Western Australia (Kimberleys) and N Northern Territory E to N & E Queensland, thence S in E New South Wales to Sydney.
  • Also Romang I (NE of Timor) and Yamdena I (Tanimbar Is)#R, but racial diagnosis disputed.

    Descriptive notes

    18–21 cm; c. 35–40 g. A medium-sized, rather drab grassbird with long and graduated tail, rectrices narrowing to blunt tip but not becoming unduly frayed.... read more


    Song transcriptions vary somewhat over wide range, although significance of this unclear: in... read more


    Reedbeds and grasslands, especially rank grassland with scattered shrubs; particularly in riverine... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods and other invertebrates; some seeds also eaten. Feeds almost entirely on small insects, chiefly larvae of moths (Lepidoptera)... read more


    Season chiefly between Aug and Apr (at onset of local rains) in Australia; breeding reported Feb–Aug in Philippines; single-brooded.... read more


    Chiefly resident. At least some Australian populations partially migratory or nomadic; precise... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common; status poorly known in many parts of range. In Philippines, occurs on all major islands and is considered to be locally common.... read more

    Recommended citation

    Madge, S. (2019). Tawny Grassbird (Cincloramphus timoriensis). 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 21 May 2019).