The Speckled Warbler is a small well-camouflaged very heavily streaked ground-dwelling bird related to the scrubwrens, reaching a length of 13cm. The back, wings and tail are grey-brown, with soft dark streaks. The black crown is distinctively streaked with buff. The underparts are pale and particularly heavily streaked. The face is off-white with streaking on the ear coverts. The male has a black upper margin to the brow, while the female has a rufous upper edge to the brow. The dark tail is held horizontally, although in flight the spread tail shows a wide black band above white tips of the outer tail feathers. The call is an undulating rich, trilled, warbling mix of clear sharp whistles and mellow notes. The alarm call is a harsh churring chatter.


The Speckled Warbler has a patchy distribution throughout south-eastern Queensland, the eastern half of NSW and into Victoria, as far west as the Grampians. The species is most frequently reported from the hills and tablelands of the Great Dividing Range, and rarely from the coast. There has been a decline in population density throughout its range, with the decline exceeding 40% where no vegetation remnants larger than 100ha survive.

Habitat and ecology

  • The Speckled Warbler lives in a wide range of Eucalyptus dominated communities that have a grassy understorey, often on rocky ridges or in gullies.
  • Typical habitat would include scattered native tussock grasses, a sparse shrub layer, some eucalypt regrowth and an open canopy.
  • Large, relatively undisturbed remnants are required for the species to persist in an area.
  • The diet consists of seeds and insects, with most foraging taking place on the ground around tussocks and under bushes and trees.
  • Pairs are sedentary and occupy a breeding territory of about ten hectares, with a slightly larger home-range when not breeding.
  • The rounded, domed, roughly built nest of dry grass and strips of bark is located in a slight hollow in the ground or the base of a low dense plant, often among fallen branches and other litter. A side entrance allows the bird to walk directly inside.
  • A clutch of 3-4 eggs is laid, between August and January, and both parents feed the nestlings. The eggs are a glossy red-brown, giving rise to the unusual folk names ‘Blood Tit’ and ‘Chocolatebird’.
  • Some cooperative breeding occurs. The species may act as host to the Black-eared Cuckoo.
  • Speckled Warblers often join mixed species feeding flocks in winter, with other species such as Yellow-rumped, Buff-rumped, Brown and Striated Thornbills.
We acknowledge and thank the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage for the provision of threatened species information in this website.
Image by Taken byfir0002 | 20D + Canon 400mm f/5.6 L – Own work, GFDL 1.2,
For more information:
NSW Office of Environment & Heritage