Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Ashy Tailorbird (Orthotomus ruficeps)


French: Couturière à tête rousse German: Grauschneidervogel Spanish: Sastrecillo ceniciento

Edela ruficeps


, 1830,

Surabaya, Java


Formerly considered conspecific with O. sepium, but they behave as separate species where they meet (in Java) and are genetically distinct#R. For some time there was much confusion over the names of these two and O. sericeus; consequently, some statements in recent literature are incorrect or require reconfirmation. Eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. r. cineraceus Blyth, 1845 – extreme S Myanmar (S Tenasserim), S Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Bangka and Belitung. Probably this race in S Vietnam (Mekong Delta)#R and coastal S Cambodia#R.
  • O. r. baeus Oberholser, 1912 – Nias and Pagai Is (off W Sumatra).
  • O. r. concinnus Riley, 1927 – Siberut and Sipura (off W Sumatra).
  • O. r. borneoensis Salvadori, 1874 – Borneo.
  • O. r. cagayanensis Riley, 1935 – Cagayan Sulu (off N Borneo).
  • O. r. ruficeps (Lesson, 1830) – Java.
  • O. r. baweanus Hoogerwerf, 1962 – Bawean I (N of Java).
  • O. r. palliolatus Chasen & Kloss, 1932 – Kangean Is and Karimunjawa Is (off N Java).
  • Descriptive notes

    12 cm; c. 7 g. A rather short-tailed, grey tailorbird with long bill slightly decurved towards tip, striking white undertail-coverts. Male has forehead, forecrown and side of... read more


    Song a repeated series of double notes, first note brief, emphasis on second note, “chip-wee, chip-... read more


    Lowland forests, chiefly in coastal habitats; rarely inland, but recorded to 950 m in Sumatra and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food small invertebrates and their larvae, including lepidopteran caterpillars, beetles (Coleoptera), ants (Hymenoptera) and small flies (... read more


    Nesting reported in Jan–Jul in SE Asia. Nest pouch constructed preferentially by stitching together the two sides of one large flat... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Relatively common at most lowland, coastal woodland and mangrove sites in its range. Status in Cochinchina (S Vietnam) unclear, and claimed presence... read more

    Recommended citation

    Madge, S. (2019). Ashy Tailorbird (Orthotomus ruficeps). 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 17 September 2019).