Thick-billed Grasswren (north-west NSW subspecies) - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Amytornis modestus obscurior
Conservation status in NSW: Critically Endangered
Commonwealth status: Critically Endangered
Gazetted date: 31 Jul 2009
Profile last updated: 01 Dec 2017


The Thick-billed Grasswren is a thick-set, finely streaked, pale fawn grasswren with a heavy bill. It can be told apart from other grasswrens by a combination of the stout bill and drab uniform brownish plumage with coarsely white-streaked head and upperparts and faintly streaked underparts.


Formerly occurred in central and western NSW, from the lower reaches of the Namoi River, south to Mossgiel. Generally thought to be extinct in NSW until recently located in the Packsaddle area. May still occur at other locations in Upper Western Region.

Habitat and ecology

  • Sedentary, usually inhabiting dense, low saltbush, cottonbush, bluebush and nitre-bush areas on sandy plains or depressions in gibber; also occurs along watercourses in clumps of Canegrass; when disturbed, individuals take refuge in any available cover, including piles of old flood debris along dry sandy watercourses and down rabbit burrows.
  • The nest is deep and loosely-made, shaped either like a cup, half-dome or dome; located on or near the ground in a clump of Canegrass, within the foliage of low shrub (saltbush, bluebush) or in flood debris, and constructed of dead grasses, twigs and dry bark strips.
  • Established pairs maintain 20 - 40 hectare territories year-round and rarely, perhaps never, band with their neighbours outside the breeding season.
  • Forages on the ground and under or around bushes for a wide variety of seeds, berries and invertebrates.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Broken Hill ComplexBarrier Range Predicted None
Broken Hill ComplexBarrier Range Outwash Predicted None
Broken Hill ComplexMootwingee Downs Known None
Channel CountryCentral Depression Predicted None
Channel CountrySturt Stony Desert Predicted None
Mulga LandsWhite Cliffs Plateau Known None