Family Thornbills (Acanthizidae)

Least Concern

White-browed Scrubwren (Sericornis frontalis)


French: Séricorne à sourcils blancs German: Weißbrauensericornis Spanish: Sedosito cejiblanco

Acanthiza frontalis

Vigors and Horsfield

, 1827,

region of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


See S. humilis; see also S. keri, which has probably hybridized with race laevigaster. Otherwise, races of present species form three broad groups, E “frontalis group”, W “maculatus group”, and monotypic NE “laevigaster group”; plumage and vocal differences suggest that these could perhaps be treated as three distinct species, but laevigaster intergrades with tweedi over a 100-km zone in S Queensland and N New South Wales, and in South Australia mellori probaby intergraded with rosinae around Gulf St Vincent prior to foundation of metropolitan Adelaide (intergrades from this area described as taxon osculans). Other proposed races include herbertoni (NE Queensland), a synonym of laevigaster; longirostris (coastal SE South Australia), included in nominate; in Bass Strait, gularis (Kent Group) and insularis (nearby Forsyth I), apparently intermediates between nominate and flindersi and merged with latter; and mondraini (Recherche Is, in S Western Australia), merged with mellori. Ten subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. f. balstoni Ogilvie-Grant, 1909 – coastal W Western Australia from Shark Bay and its islands S, including Houtman Abrolhos, to Dongara–Jurien Bay region.
  • S. f. maculatus Gould, 1847 – Spotted Scrubwren – SW Western Australia (from Dongara S to Bremer Bay–Hopetoun region).
  • S. f. mellori Mathews, 1912 – S Western Australia (from Bremer Bay–Hopetoun, and extending N patchily to inner Wheatbelt) E along coast, including Archipelago of the Recherche, to SE South Australia (E to S Yorke Peninsula and coastal Gulf St Vincent).
  • S. f. ashbyi Mathews, 1912 – Kangaroo I, off South Australia.
  • S. f. laevigaster Gould, 1847 – Buff-breasted Scrubwren – NE Queensland (S from Cairns and Atherton Tablelands) S to NE New South Wales and to W slopes of Great Dividing Range.
  • S. f. tweedi Mathews, 1922 – coastal and subcoastal areas from Queensland–New South Wales border S to Hunter R and inland to W slopes of Great Dividing Range.
  • S. f. frontalis (Vigors & Horsfield, 1827) – White-browed Scrubwren – coastal and subcoastal area from EC New South Wales (Hunter R and inland to W slopes of Great Dividing Range) S, except in S Victoria, to E coast of South Australia.
  • S. f. harterti Mathews, 1912 – coastal S Victoria (around Cape Otway and E to Wilson’s Promontory).
  • S. f. rosinae Mathews, 1912 – Mt Lofty Ranges, in South Australia.
  • S. f. flindersi S. A. White & Mellor, 1913 – islands in E Bass Strait (Hogan, Kent and Furneaux Groups).
  • Descriptive notes

    10·5–15 cm; c. 14 g. Highly variable medium-sized scrubwren with distinctive head pattern and comparatively short legs. Male nominate race has lores and ear-... read more


    Very vocal. Loud song variable, musical or harsh, usually of 5–20 multi-note “syllables... read more


    Dense undergrowth in diverse habitats, including eucalypt (Eucalyptus) forest, rainforest... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food arthropods, especially insects; also seeds and fruit. Recorded prey items include gastropods and a wide range of arthropods, including... read more


    Recorded in all months, but mainly Aug–Jan; several broods in a season. Mating system includes monogamy and polyandry within social... read more


    Resident, with some local wandering; may make local altitudinal shifts in highlands of SE Australia... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Often common within its large range in E, S & SW Australia outside desert and semi-arid zone. Able to thrive in a wide range of vegetated... read more

    Recommended citation

    Gregory, P. (2019). White-browed Scrubwren (Sericornis frontalis). 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 April 2019).