Dusky Grasswren

Amytornis purnelli

An inhabitant of rocky, spinifex-clad ranges (generally in the vicinity of open woodland) of central Australia, this small (15.5 to 18cm) grasswren can be seen bouncing and scurrying, mouse-like, along the ground amongst the spinifex tussocks, stopping to feed on small seeds, fruits and some invertebrates. Cryptically-coloured with dull reddish-brown upperparts and greyish underparts, both sexes with white streaks around the head, upper back and upper breast, but the female can often be distinguished from the male by a small rufous patch on the flanks. It is generally heard before it is seen, with its short trills, drawn out ‘tseee’ and ‘tchik-tchik-tchik’ alarm call. It is usually observed in small groups. The species was formerly grouped with the Kalkadoon Grasswren A. ballarae, which is found further north and has more prominent white streaking, richer reddish upperparts and greyer underparts.