Family Ground Babblers (Pellorneidae)

Least Concern

Abbott's Babbler (Malacocincla abbotti)


French: Akalat d’Abbott German: Rotschwanz-Mausdrossling Spanish: Tordina de Abbott

M[alacocincla]. Abbotti


, 1845,

Ramree Island, Arakan, Lower Myanmar


Often placed in genus Trichastoma or Turdinus. Mainland races weakly differentiated, and perhaps only concreta and baweana merit recognition. Proposed races amabile (low elevations from E Nepal to E Assam, in NE India) and rufescentior (from S Myanmar and S Thailand) merged with nominate. Birds observed in SE part of NE Thailand, SW Laos and adjacent NE Cambodia have not been assigned to race. Eight subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. a. abbotti Blyth, 1845 – Nepal and extreme S Bhutan E to NE Indian states, E Bangladesh, SW & S Myanmar (including Tenasserim), W & S Thailand and NW Peninsular Malaysia.
  • M. a. krishnarajui Ripley & Beehler, 1985 – Eastern Ghats (Odisha, NE Andhra Pradesh), in E India.
  • M. a. altera (Sims, 1957) – C Laos and Vietnam (N & C Annam).
  • M. a. williamsoni Deignan, 1948 – E Thailand E to E Cambodia and S Vietnam (Cochinchina).
  • M. a. olivacea (Strickland, 1847) – extreme SE Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia (except NW), Singapore and Sumatra.
  • M. a. obscurior Deignan, 1948 – SE Thailand and SW Cambodia.
  • M. a. concreta Büttikofer, 1895 – Belitung I, and Borneo (including Matasiri I, off S).
  • M. a. baweana Oberholser, 1917 – Bawean I, off NE Java.
  • Descriptive notes

    15–17 cm; 26–32 g. Medium-sized hook-billed babbler, chunky, rather short-tailed and nondescript, brown above and greyish white to buff-tan below, with vague... read more


    Song consists of repeated variable loud jolly phrases, usually of three (sometimes up to five) well... read more


    Degraded broadleaf evergreen and semi-evergreen forest, riverine forest and swampy coastal scrub,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects and small invertebrates. Solitary or in pairs, on or near ground. Forages with deliberate slow movements among leaf litter,... read more


    Apr–May in Bhutan, Jan–Sept in SE Asia, at least Dec–Jan on Sumatra, and on Borneo May–Jun in Brunei and Jul–... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common in much of its range in appropriate habitat, and common in parts of SE Asian range. Very rare and local in Nepal except in far E, where... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Robson, C. (2019). Abbott's Babbler (Malacocincla abbotti). 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 25 April 2019).