Family Laughingthrushes and allies (Leiotrichidae)

Least Concern

Brown Babbler (Turdoides plebejus)


French: Cratérope brun German: Sudanschwatzhäherling Spanish: Turdoide pardo

Ixos plebejus


, 1828,

Kordofan Province, Sudan


Sometimes treated as conspecific with T. leucocephala and T. jardineii. Proposed race uamensis (Cameroon and adjacent W Central African Republic) included in cinerea; if recognized, separation of genus Chatarrhaea means older name gularis would not be preoccupied and would replace uamensis. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. p. platycirca (Swainson, 1837) – Extreme S Mauritania and Senegal E to SE Mali, SW Niger and W Nigeria.
  • T. p. plebejus (Cretzschmar, 1828) – NE Nigeria E to C & S Sudan.
  • T. p. cinerea (Heuglin, 1856) – SE Nigeria E to South Sudan and SW Ethiopia, S to Cameroon, NE DRCongo, Uganda and W Kenya.
  • Descriptive notes

    22–25 cm; 52–80 g (laying female 88 g). Medium-sized greyish-brown Turdoides babbler with black bill, streaky crown, and white-chevroned throat and... read more


    Song in chorus described as an irritable chuckling, in bursts lasting 5–10 seconds and... read more


    Open savanna woodland, particularly with Lophira alata, parkland, denser parts of open... read more

    Food and feeding

    Ants (Formicidae), beetles (Coleoptera), mantids, termites (Isoptera), inchworms and, in beeswax, wax-moth larvae; also beeswax itself,... read more


    Apr and Aug in Mauritania; Jun, Aug–Oct and Dec–Jan in Gambia; Mar–Jun and Aug in Sierra Leone; Apr–May, Jul and... read more


    Mostly resident; some seasonal movement. In C Burkina Faso noted more often in wet season than in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common across range. Widespread and patchily common in Senegal, and common throughout Gambia; present and common in Boucle du Baoul... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Robson, C. (2020). Brown Babbler (Turdoides plebejus). 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).