Nature conservation

Threatened species

Speckled Warbler - 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: Chthonicola sagittata
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Gazetted date: 26 Oct 2001
Profile last updated: 18 Oct 2022


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.

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
Australian AlpsSnowy Mountains Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Plains Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Range Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthNorthern Basalts Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthNorthern Outwash Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Outwash Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthTalbragar Valley Known None
Cobar PeneplainBarnato Downs Known East and south of Cobar
Cobar PeneplainCanbelego Downs Predicted East and south of Cobar
Cobar PeneplainLachlan Plains Known None
Cobar PeneplainNymagee Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsBogan-Macquarie Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsCastlereagh-Barwon Known None
Murray Darling DepressionDarling Depression Known None
NandewarInverell Basalts Known None
NandewarKaputar Known None
NandewarNandewar Northern Complex Known None
NandewarPeel Known None
New England TablelandsArmidale Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsBeardy River Hills Known None
New England TablelandsBinghi Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsBundarra Downs Known None
New England TablelandsDeepwater Downs Predicted None
New England TablelandsEastern Nandewars Known None
New England TablelandsEbor Basalts Predicted None
New England TablelandsGlenn Innes-Guyra Basalts Known None
New England TablelandsMoredun Volcanics Known None
New England TablelandsNightcap Predicted None
New England TablelandsNortheast Forest Lands Known None
New England TablelandsRound Mountain Known None
New England TablelandsSevern River Volcanics Known None
New England TablelandsStanthorpe Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsTenterfield Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsTingha Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsWalcha Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsWongwibinda Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsYarrowyck-Kentucky Downs Known None
NSW North CoastCarrai Plateau Predicted None
NSW North CoastCataract Known None
NSW North CoastChaelundi Predicted None
NSW North CoastDalmorton Known None
NSW North CoastEllerston Known None
NSW North CoastGuy Fawkes Known None
NSW North CoastKaruah Manning Known None
NSW North CoastMacleay Gorges Known None
NSW North CoastMacleay Hastings Known None
NSW North CoastRocky River Gorge Known None
NSW North CoastTomalla Known None
NSW North CoastUpper Hunter Known None
NSW North CoastUpper Manning Known None
NSW South Western SlopesCapertee Valley Known None
NSW South Western SlopesInland Slopes Known None
NSW South Western SlopesLower Slopes Known None
Ocean - Other StateNorthern Australian Coastal Waters Known None
Other StateACT Known None
Other StateQLD Known None
Other StateVIC Known None
RiverinaLachlan Known None
RiverinaMurray Fans Known None
RiverinaMurrumbidgee Known None
South East CornerBateman Known None
South East CornerSouth East Coastal Ranges Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBathurst Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBondo Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBungonia Known None
South Eastern HighlandsCapertee Uplands Known None
South Eastern HighlandsCrookwell Known None
South Eastern HighlandsHill End Known None
South Eastern HighlandsKanangra Known None
South Eastern HighlandsKybeyan-Gourock Known None
South Eastern HighlandsMonaro Known None
South Eastern HighlandsMurrumbateman Known None
South Eastern HighlandsOberon Known None
South Eastern HighlandsOrange Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Lowlands Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Sandstones Known None
South Eastern QueenslandWoodenbong Known None
Sydney BasinBurragorang Known None
Sydney BasinCumberland Known None
Sydney BasinHunter Known None
Sydney BasinKerrabee Known None
Sydney BasinWollemi Known None
Sydney BasinWyong Known None
Sydney BasinYengo Known None