Moustached babbler

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Moustached babbler
Malacopteron magnirostre.JPG
M. m. cinereocapilla
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Pellorneidae
Genus: Malacopteron
Species: M. magnirostre
Binomial name
Malacopteron magnirostre
(Moore, 1854)

The moustached babbler (Malacopteron magnirostre) is a species of bird in the ground babbler family Pellorneidae. The species is also known as the brown-headed babbler or brown-headed tree-babbler.

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

This species has two subspecies, the nominate race M. m. magnirostre and the subspecies M. m. cinereocapilla (Salvadori, 1868). A third subspecies, flavum, from the Anamba Islands, is sometimes recognised but is usually merged into the nominate race. The specific name magnirostre comes from the Latin magnus for big and rostris for bill. The name for the subspecies cinereocapilla comes from the Latin cinereus for ash/ashy and capillus for head.[2]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The moustached babbler is found in Sundaland. The nominate race is found in southern Burma and Thailand through Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra, and the subspecies M. m. cinereocapilla is endemic to Borneo.[2] Formerly, it could be found in the forests of Singapore, but it is now likely extinct there.[3]

Its natural habitat is tropical moist primary lowland forests, peatswamp forest, secondary forest, logged forests and old rubber plantations, from 915 m (3,002 ft), rarely to 1,200 m (3,900 ft).[2] It is suggested that this species, since it prefers logged forest to primary forest, could be used as a habitat indicator.[4]


The moustached babbler is 18 cm (7.1 in) long and weighs between 16–25 g (0.56–0.88 oz). The plumage is dull brown above and whitish below. The crown is olive-brown in the nominate race, with a grey loral stripe and moustachial stripe.[2]


The moustached babbler feeds on insects, including on beetles and locusts. They feed in mid-story, from 4–6 m (13–20 ft) off the ground.[2]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Malacopteron magnirostre". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Collar, N. & Robson, C. (2017). Moustached Babbler (Malacopteron magnirostre). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 18 March 2017).
  3. ^ Yong, D. L. (2009). "Persistence of babbler (Timaliidae) communities in Singapore forests" (PDF). Nature in Singapore. 2: 365–371. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-06-16. 
  4. ^ Zakaria, Mohamed; Leong, Puan Chong; Yusuf, Muhammad Ezhar (2005). "Comparison of species composition in three forest types: Towards using bird as indicator of forest ecosystem health". Journal of Biological Sciences. 5 (6): 734–737. doi:10.3923/jbs.2005.734.737. ISSN 1727-3048. 

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