Family Thornbills (Acanthizidae)

Least Concern

Weebill (Smicrornis brevirostris)


French: Séricorne à bec court German: Stutzschnabel Spanish: Gerigón piquicorto

Psilopus brevirostris


, 1838,

Sydney region, New South Wales, Australia


In past, sometimes considered to comprise two species, “flavescens group” in N parts of range and nominate and others in C & S. Geographical variation complex, and often clinal, races intergrading over wide areas, e.g. pale form ochrogaster may be part of a cline of yellower and less greyish coloration from S to N, as it intergrades extensively in W Western Australia with occidentalis; genetic work required. Extensive nature of intergradation has led to naming of numerous other races: stirlingi (SW Australia), cairnsi (subhumid highlands of NE Queensland), pallescens (drier parts of Queensland) and mallee (mallee areas of SW New South Wales, Victoria and adjacent South Australia) all now considered to be based on intermediates. Pallid form ochrogaster formerly listed as mathewsi, but that name was described from zone of intergradation between ochrogaster and flavescens. Four subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. b. flavescens Gould, 1843 – N Australia from Kimberley Divide (Western Australia) E, including Tiwi Is (Bathurst I, Melville I), to N & W Queensland (Cape York Peninsula, including dry forest of NE) and S to N Great Sandy and Tanami Deserts, C Australian ranges, N Simpson Desert and C Thomson drainage.
  • S. b. ochrogaster Schodde & Mason, 1999 – W & C Western Australia (S from Pilbara).
  • S. b. occidentalis Bonaparte, 1850 – SW Western Australia (S from lower Murchison R and Kalgoorlie region) E around S rim of Nullarbor Plain to South Australia (S from C Flinders Ranges, L Frome Basin and Murray Mallee).
  • S. b. brevirostris (Gould, 1838) – E Australia from C & E Queensland (Burdekin drainage) S to Victoria and SE South Australia.
  • Descriptive notes

    8–9·5 cm; 6 g. Tiny acanthizid resembling Acanthiza species, but with short stubby pale bill; often considered the smallest Australian passerine.... read more


    Song given particularly on hot sunny days, a loud, liquid rich musical “pee-pee p’wee... read more


    Wide range of wooded habitats, particularly eucalypt (Eucalyptus) woodlands, also dry... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods, also some seeds. Prey items include spiders (Araneae), beetles (Coleoptera, including curculionids), flies (Diptera, including... read more


    Eggs recorded in all months but primarily Aug–Dec, timing of laying may vary according to rainfall (which is sporadic over much of... read more


    Resident; some local movements reported in N Queensland and S Western Australia. Around Canberra,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common and widespread over much of Australia. Local declines have been noted (as with many other woodland birds), these being consequent upon habitat... read more

    Recommended citation

    Gregory, P. (2020). Weebill (Smicrornis brevirostris). 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 22 February 2020).