Aussie Bird Count

What bird is that? Little Brown Birds

Saturday, 14 October 2023

  • Estimated reading time 2min

How to tell the difference between commonly confused birds: Brown Thornbill vs. White-browed Scrubwren

In the leadup to this year’s 10th Aussie Bird Count, our very own National Public Affairs Manager Sean Dooley is talking us through how to tell the difference between commonly confused backyard birds.

In this video, we’re learning all about little brown birds – Brown Thornbills and White-browed Scrubwrens – and the easiest ways to tell them apart when you’re out counting!

Find out how to tell these classic angry garden birds apart.

Put your knowledge to the test and sign up to the Aussie Bird Count

See below for the full video transcript


00:00:09:14 – 00:00:13:24
In urban areas where there’s still a bit of bush
with a lot of undergrowth,

00:00:13:24 – 00:00:17:11
you still can find a lot
of small bush birds.

00:00:17:13 – 00:00:20:24
And two of the most commonly found birds
from Adelaide right

00:00:20:24 – 00:00:23:12
through eastern Australia,
all the way up to Brisbane

00:00:23:12 – 00:00:26:12
are the Brown Thornbill and the
White-browed Scrubwren.

00:00:26:15 – 00:00:29:02
And they’re very difficult to tell

00:00:29:02 – 00:00:33:09
as they scurry around
and through all the dense foliage.

00:00:33:11 – 00:00:35:15
they also sound really similar as well.

00:00:35:15 – 00:00:38:15
They’re kind of like the ultimate angry
birds of your garden.

00:00:38:17 – 00:00:42:04
They’ve all got this scolding, chittering
call that they will give,

00:00:42:06 – 00:00:46:09
when they do sing their song, that’s
when you can really tell the difference.

00:00:46:12 – 00:00:50:29
The Scrubwren has a surprisingly loud,
piping song

00:00:50:29 – 00:00:53:17
variable across different regions,

00:00:53:23 – 00:00:57:29
but it’s a really distinctive
and surprisingly beautiful and loud song.

00:01:03:00 – 00:01:08:18
The Brown Thornbill has more of a lilting,
lovely phrase

00:01:14:04 – 00:01:17:06
when you actually see the birds
the way that you tell the difference

00:01:17:06 – 00:01:20:27
is that the White-browed Scrubwren
has what it says in it’s name.

00:01:20:27 – 00:01:24:09
It has a white brow
which gives it actually an angry

00:01:24:09 – 00:01:29:04
look the whole time, making it
one of our classic angry garden birds