Family Laughingthrushes and allies (Leiotrichidae)

Least Concern

Dark-backed Sibia (Heterophasia melanoleuca)


French: Garrulaxe à tête noire German: Schwarzrückensibia Spanish: Sibia dorsinegra
Other common names: Black-backed Sibia

Sibia melanoleuca


, 1859,

Mulayit Taung [16°11’ N, 98°32’ E], Tenasserim, Myanmar


Has been placed in Malacias. Until recently treated as conspecific with H. desgodinsi. Races radcliffei and castanoptera intergrade in EC Myanmar (Southern Shan States). Birds in W Thailand of undetermined race, presumed to belong with nominate race of adjacent Myanmar. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • H. m. radcliffei (E. C. S. Baker, 1922) – EC & E Myanmar, NW Thailand and NW Laos; perhaps adjacent Yunnan (China).
  • H. m. melanoleuca (Blyth, 1859) – Dark-backed Sibia – N Tenasserim (S Myanmar) and adjacent W Thailand.
  • H. m. castanoptera (Salvadori, 1889) – Chestnut-winged Sibia – SE Myanmar.
  • Descriptive notes

    21–23 cm; 23–39 g. Slender, narrow-billed long-tailed babbler, dark brown above with black head, white below. Nominate race has crown, head side (lores, cheek,... read more


    Sings with repeated loud, high-pitched, wavering whistle, dropping in pitch at end, “hrrrr... read more


    Broadleaf evergreen forest, at 1000–2565 m.

    Food and feeding

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


    Feb–Jun. Nest a cup made of moss, pine needles, grasses, leaves and wool, sometimes (when near habitation) decorated with bits of... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not assessed. Generally common across range. Common in Doi Inthanon National Park, in NW Thailand.

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Robson, C. (2020). Dark-backed Sibia (Heterophasia melanoleuca). 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).