Family Scimitar-babblers and allies (Timaliidae)

Least Concern

Brown-crowned Scimitar-babbler (Pomatorhinus phayrei)


French: Pomatorhin de Phayre German: Korallenschnabelsäbler Spanish: Cimitarra coroniparda

Pomatorhinus phayrei


, 1847,

Aracan, Lower Myanmar


Until recently considered conspecific with P. ferruginosus, but differs in its brown or grey-brown vs black crown (3); lack of rufous spiky feathers above lores (2); pale cinnamon to pale ochre vs bright rufous underparts (2); supposedly different vocalizations#R. Recent phylogenetic study suggests synonymy of formosus and phayrei, but that remaining races each might represent separate species#R. Races stanfordi, formosus and phayrei form a group. Proposed race mariae (Toungoo Hills, Myanmar) synonymized with albogularis owing to improbable distribution, but is slightly weaker buff below than latter and worthy of further investigation; namdapha (extreme E Arunachal Pradesh, NE India) treated as synonym of stanfordi. Birds in C Laos paler below than orientalis and may represent an undescribed race. Notably pale form dickinsoni merits further study. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. p. phayrei Blyth, 1847 – Brown-crowned Scimitar-babbler – Mizoram (NE India) and W & SW Myanmar.
  • P. p. stanfordi Ticehurst, 1935 – E Arunachal Pradesh, N Myanmar and S China (W Yunnan).
  • P. p. formosus Koelz, 1952 – NE India (Meghalaya E to Nagaland and Manipur).
  • P. p. albogularis Blyth, 1855 – White-throated Scimitar-babbler – S & SE Myanmar (including N & C Tenasserim), NW & W Thailand and NW Laos.
  • P. p. orientalis Delacour, 1927 – S China (SE Yunnan), NE Laos and N Vietnam (Tonkin, N Annam).
  • P. p. dickinsoni J. C. Eames, 2002 – S Laos and Vietnam (C Annam).
  • Descriptive notes

    24 cm; 40–48 g. Largish scimitar-babbler with white supercilium, black mask and medium-length red bill. Nominate race has dull brown crown with narrow black lateral lines,... read more


    Several individuals may unite to produce wide variety of sounds, including soft, questioning “whu... read more


    Broadleaf evergreen forest, bamboo, secondary growth, wild banana groves in gulleys; in Nam Theun... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects and larvae; observed also to peel off and swallow thin strips of bamboo. Very elusive, found in pairs or small parties, rummaging... read more


    Season Apr–Aug. Nest sometimes attended by three birds (Laos). Nest an oval or bulky cone placed on side, made of dry bamboo, rattan or... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally uncommon throughout its range. Although the population size of this species, which has a large range, has not been... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Brown-crowned Scimitar-babbler (Pomatorhinus phayrei). 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 20 January 2019).