Instalment #3 on the identification guide to central Victorian thornbills. Today it’s the turn of the Yellow Thornbill Acanthiza nana.
This species is arguably the most nondescript of our local thornbills, the lack of distinctive markings are what makes it relatively easy to identify.
In my view there are two handy spotting characters, firstly the boldly streaked ear-coverts – a feature shared with the Striated Thornbill, and secondly the russet wash on the throat and chin. This latter feature renders an overall ‘golden’ hue to the bird and is unique to this species of thornbill. It is the lack of streaking on the crown and breast that sets A. nana apart from both the Striated Thornbill and the Brown Thornbill.
A close-up look reveals that the iris is actually olive coloured – it tends to be described as dark in the field guides. The second image also shows off the black sub-terminal band on the tail – quite narrow in this species, but a more or less obvious feature of all the thornbills.
Yellow Thornbills tend to be canopy feeders, although this can include foraging in low shrubs – the third image below shows a Yellow Thornbill feeding in planted saltbush in our garden. While I often encounter them in box-ironbark woodlands they can also be found in scattered remnants on the Moolort Plains, as well as our home garden where they appear to be resident.
I have difficulty separating the Striated and Yellow Thornbill on the basis of calls but that is largely due to my own incompetence … check a good field guide for a description of voice!