The adult bird has ashy grey upperparts and light grey to white underparts. The crown, sides of head and throat is rufous. The females have paler grey breast and whiter belly. Immatures have whitish throat. Size 11-12 cm.
Soft parts: Iris light brown, yellow-brown or orange. Upper mandible dark brown, lower mandible cinnamon. Feet flesh.
Common resident, restricted mainly to the mangroves.
Eats small insects including caterpillars, beetles, ants, small flies.
The Ashy Tailorbird hunts for insects in the undergrowth in the mangroves.
The nest is constructed by using a large leaf or 2-3 smaller leaves by pulling the edges together and they are held by strands or cotton or spider webs drawn through holes pierced along the leaf edges. The nest is lined with soft cottony materials and 2-4 eggs are laid. Eggs are blue-green, white or pinkish, evenly spotted and freckled with reddish brown and pale purple, sometimes unmarked; average size 18x12 mm (Medway & Wells 1976). Incubation is at least 16 days. Fledging takes 12-14 days. Eggs recorded in May. Chicks found in Jun. Immatures seen in May, Jun, Aug, Sep, Nov.
The call is a plaintive "choee-choee" uttered 1 to 10 times, also "serrwit" (Smythies 1968). King, Woodcock & Dickinson (1975) described the call as a di-syllabic trilled "trrree-yip".
Differs from other tailorbirds by rufous sides of head and upper throat.