Scrubbirds are shy, secretive, ground-dwelling birds of the family Atrichornithidae. There are just two species. The Rufous Scrub-bird is rare and very restricted in its range, and the Noisy Scrub-bird is so rare that until 1961 it was thought to be extinct. Both are native to Australia.
The population of the Noisy Scrub-bird was estimated at 40 to 45 birds in 1962. Conservation efforts succeeded in increasing the population to around 400 birds by the mid-1980s, and they have subsequently been reintroduced to several sites, but remain endangered. As of 2002, the population had recovered to around 1,200 birds.
Birds of both species are about the same size as a Common Starling, Rufous Scrub-bird being 17–18.5 centimetres (6.7–7.3 in); Noisy Scrub-bird females being 19.5 centimetres (7.7 in) and males being 23 centimetres (9.1 in) and cryptically coloured in drab browns and blacks.
They occupy dense undergrowth—the Rufous Scrub-bird in temperate rain forests near the Queensland-New South Wales border, the Noisy Scrub-bird in heaths and scrubby gullies in coastal Western Australia—and are adept at scuttling mouse-like under cover to avoid notice. They run fast, but their flight is feeble.
The males' calls, however, are powerful: ringing and metallic, with a ventriloquial quality, so loud as to be heard from a long distance in heavy scrub and almost painful at close range. Females build a domed nest close to the ground and take sole responsibility for raising the young.
Both species often cock tails.
The scrubbird family is ancient and is understood to be most closely related to the lyrebirds, and probably also the bowerbirds and treecreepers. All four families originated with the great corvid radiation of the Australia-New Guinea region.
- ^ "Atrichornis clamosus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Atrichornis rufescens". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2012: e.T22703608A39249386. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
- ^ Simpson & Day (2010). A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, 8th Edition. Penguin Ltd. and Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691146928.
- ^ a b Smith. G.T. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. p. 170. ISBN 1-85391-186-0.
- ^ Simpson & Day (1999). A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, 6th Edition. Penguin. ISBN 0-691-04995-5.
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