Family Laughingthrushes and allies (Leiotrichidae)

Least Concern

Arabian Babbler (Argya squamiceps)


French: Cratérope écaillé German: Grauelsterhäherling Spanish: Turdoide árabe

Malurus squamiceps


, 1827,

Aqaba, Jordan


Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. s. squamiceps (Cretzschmar, 1827) – extreme NE Egypt (Sinai), S Israel, and SW Jordan S to C Saudi Arabia.
  • A. s. yemensis Neumann, 1904 – SW Saudi Arabia and W Yemen.
  • A. s. muscatensis (Meyer de Schauensee & Ripley, 1953) – E United Arab Emirates and N Oman.
  • Also (race unknown) E Yemen to S Oman.

    Descriptive notes

    26–29 cm. Fairly large, long-tailed, drab grey-brown Turdoides babbler with dark streaks and pale scaling on crown, back and neck side. Nominate race has crown... read more


    Song of male, heard just before and after copulation, a high quiet warble; subsong variation given... read more


    Small trees, thickets and bushy areas, including saltbush, acacia stands, date-palm groves and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet consists of invertebrates, including crickets (Orthoptera), termites (Isoptera), ant-lion larvae (Myrmeleonidae), caterpillars, moths... read more


    Feb–Jul in Israel, May in United Arab Emirates and Mar–Apr in Oman; up to four broods may be produced by one female per season... read more


    Resident. In Israel, individuals may move only a few kilometres from their parental territories. In... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Local breeder in E Sinai, in Egypt. In Israel, locally fairly common from Dead Sea S into Negev Desert, numbers having expanded since 1950s in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Robson, C. (2020). Arabian Babbler (Argya squamiceps). 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 26 February 2020).