Greater thornbird

Greater thornbird

Greater thornbird

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Phacellodomus ruber

The greater thornbird (Phacellodomus ruber ) is a species of bird in the family Furnariidae. It is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist shrubland and heavily degraded former forest.


The greater thornbird grows to a length of about 20 cm (8 in). The sexes are similar, the upper parts being brown, with a rather more rufous colour on the crown, wings and tail. The underparts are whitish, the neck sometimes being scaled with a darker colour. The iris is yellow and any superciliary streak is inconspicuous. This thornbird is the largest member of the genus; the freckle-breasted thornbird (Phacellodomus striaticollis ), though smaller, can look very similar, but is usually a more even shade of brown above with less rufous colouring. The song is a series of loud "chip" notes that gradually become faster but quieter.



The species is native to tropical South America. Its range extends from northern Bolivia and central Brazil southwards to Paraguay, Uruguay and northern Argentina. It typically inhabits areas of undergrowth in lowland gallery woodland, shrubs and scrub, seldom being found far from water. In Bolivia it is found at altitudes of up to 1,400 m (4,600 ft).

Greater thornbird habitat map
Greater thornbird habitat map
Greater thornbird
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Habits and Lifestyle

This thornbird tends to skulk in the undergrowth and usually occurs in pairs. However it does utter its song frequently, emerging to perch in a more open position to do this. The pair sometimes sing in duet. It feeds mainly on insects such as beetles and ants. The nest is a cone-shaped structure up to 60 cm (24 in) tall and 50 cm (20 in) in diameter, made of twigs and branches. It is often built in a position overhanging water, or is sometimes attached to a telegraph pole or other man-made object. Breeding takes place between October and January.

Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition


Population number

The greater thornbird is a common species with a very wide range. No particular threats have been recognised and the population is thought to be stable, so the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as being of "least concern".


1. Greater thornbird Wikipedia article -
2. Greater thornbird on The IUCN Red List site -
3. Xeno-canto bird call -

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