Family Laughingthrushes and allies (Leiotrichidae)

Least Concern

Black-faced Babbler (Turdoides melanops)


French: Cratérope masqué German: Schwarzgesicht-Schwatzhäherling Spanish: Turdoide enmascarado
Other common names: Black-lored Babbler

Crateropus melanops


, 1867,

Damaraland, Namibia


Often treated as conspecific with T. sharpei, and even thought to be perhaps conspecific with T. tenebrosa and T. reinwardtii. Race angolensis sometimes subsumed within nominate. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. m. angolensis A. A. R. Pinto, 1967 – SW Angola (Huíla, E Namibe).
  • T. m. melanops (Hartlaub, 1867) – S Angola and N Namibia.
  • T. m. querula Clancey, 1979 – SE Angola, NW Botswana and NE Namibia (Caprivi Strip).
  • Descriptive notes

    25 cm; 75–78 g. Medium-sized dull grey-brown Turdoides babbler with grey-flecked crown, pale eye, lightly scaled breast and black tail. Nominate race has... read more


    Chorus song a nasal chattering “wha-wha-wha-wha-what…”, “jeu jeu jeu jeu” or faster “... read more


    Underlying creepers, thickets and secondary growth in understorey of dense Acacia and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, small reptiles and some fruit. Forages low down in grass and on ground, often using the bill to toss aside leaves. Found in small... read more


    Nov–Jan in Angola and Oct–Dec and Mar in Namibia. Co-operative breeder, with up to four helpers at nest. Nest a rough bowl of... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Uncommon to locally common. Common along at least part of R Cunene, in Angola; present in Etosha National Park, in Namibia; uncommon to locally... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Robson, C. (2020). Black-faced Babbler (Turdoides melanops). 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 24 February 2020).