Family Laughingthrushes and allies (Leiotrichidae)

Least Concern

Black-headed Sibia (Heterophasia desgodinsi)


French: Garrulaxe de Desgodins German: Schwarzkopfsibia Spanish: Sibia cabecinegra
Other common names: Black-hooded Sibia

Sibia Desgodinsi


, 1877,

Yer-ka-lo, on the Mekong [Lancang Jiang] at c. 29°03’30” N, Xizang, China


Has been placed in Malacias. Until recently treated as conspecific with H. melanoleuca. Birds from NW Yunnan (particularly Lijiang), in S China, described as a further race, tecta, supposedly with more brown on upperparts, but this feature is not constant. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • H. d. desgodinsi (Oustalet, 1877) – Black-headed Sibia – N Myanmar and SC & SE China (Yunnan, C & S Sichuan, W & N Guizhou, NW Hunan, W Guangxi).
  • H. d. tonkinensis (Yen Kwokyung, 1934) – extreme N Vietnam (N Tonkin). Probably this race recently recorded in N Laos#R.
  • H. d. engelbachi (Delacour, 1930) – Brownish-backed Sibia – Bolovens Plateau, in S Laos.
  • H. d. kingi J. C. Eames, 2002 – SE Laos and C Vietnam (C Annam).
  • H. d. robinsoni (Rothschild, 1921) – White-spectacled Sibia – S Annam, in S Vietnam.
  • Descriptive notes

    21·5–24·5 cm; 35–49 g. Slender long-tailed babbler, grey or brown above with black head, white below, with narrow bill. Nominate race has crown,... read more


    Song “hi wi-wi wi wi” or “hi hwi-wi wi-wi”, similar to that of H.... read more


    Broadleaf evergreen forest, oak and pine forest, and forest edge, at 800–2895; some... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, grubs, berries and nectar. Arboreal, usually in pairs or small flocks, mostly in treetops; occasionally descends to undergrowth,... read more


    Season Apr–Aug in China and Feb–Jun in S Annam. Eggs pale blue, faintly stippled darkish brown to dull mauve with larger... read more


    Resident. Only minor altitudinal movements recorded.

    Status and conservation

    Not assessed. Common in SC & S China, where recently recorded in Cenwanglaoshan and Diding Nature Reserves, in Guangxi. Generally common in SE Asian range. In Vietnam,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Robson, C. (2020). Black-headed Sibia (Heterophasia desgodinsi). 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).