Family Ground Babblers (Pellorneidae)

Least Concern

Eyebrowed Wren-babbler (Napothera epilepidota)


French: Petite Turdinule German: Fleckenzwergdrossling Spanish: Ratina cejuda

Myiothera epilepidota


, 1828,



Geographical variation considerable. Most distinctive groupings of taxa are the two north-easterly forms guttaticollis and roberti, with white throats marked by dark cone-shaped flecks, and the Sundaic nominate, diluta and exsul, with black-and-white-stippled submoustachial areas, whiter throats, darker general coloration and (less obvious in exsul) bolder, clearer white streaking on brown breast and flanks; nominate and diluta also differ (recordings of exsul unavailable) in having even-pitched rather than downslurred whistles (other taxa except granti, which upslurs), supporting likely species rank for these Indonesian taxa (and posing an intriguing question about granti)#R. Race bakeri weakly differentiated from davisoni. Race laotiana often synonymized with amyae, but birds of latter race from Tonkin (N Vietnam) notably larger and longer-billed than other races; further study required. Birds from SE Laos presumed to be laotiana. Proposed race mendeni (from S Sumatra highlands) considered a synonym of diluta. Thirteen subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • N. e. guttaticollis (Ogilvie-Grant, 1895) – SE Bhutan, NE India (Arunachal Pradesh, E Assam) and S China (SE Xizang).
  • N. e. roberti (Godwin-Austen & Walden, 1875) – Austen's Wren-babbler – NE Indian hill states S of R Brahmaputra, and NW Myanmar.
  • N. e. bakeri (Harington, 1913) – E & SE Myanmar and possibly S China (SW Yunnan).
  • N. e. davisoni (Ogilvie-Grant, 1910) – N & W Thailand and S Myanmar (N Tenasserim).
  • N. e. amyae (Kinnear, 1925) – S China (SE Yunnan) and Vietnam (S to C Annam).
  • N. e. laotiana (Delacour, 1926) – N, C & SE Laos.
  • N. e. delacouri Yen Kwokyung, 1934 – Yao Shan (EC Guangxi), in S China.
  • N. e. hainana (E. J. O. Hartert, 1910) – Hainan.
  • N. e. clara (Robinson & Kloss, 1919) – S Annam (Vietnam).
  • N. e. granti (Richmond, 1900) – Malay Wren-babbler – extreme S Myanmar, S Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia.
  • N. e. diluta (Robinson & Kloss, 1916) – Sumatra.
  • N. e. exsul (Sharpe, 1888) – N & C Borneo.
  • N. e. epilepidota (Temminck, 1828) – Sunda Wren-babbler – Java.
  • Descriptive notes

    10–11 cm. Small, streaky, virtually tailless babbler with rather long bill and prominent pale supercilium. Nominate race has crown and upperparts rich chocolate-brown... read more


    Song a thin clear sad falling whistle, “cheeeoo”, “cheeeeeu” or “... read more


    Broadleaf evergreen forest, secondary forest, in Borneo in hilly mixed dipterocarp, damp gallery... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including ants (Formicidae), grasshoppers, locustids and crickets (Orthoptera), and beetles (Coleoptera); also spiders (Araneae).... read more


    Jan–Jun in SE Asia and Indian Subcontinent; Nov–Dec in Java. Nest a dome, semi-dome or cup, made of semi-decayed material (like... read more


    Resident. Reportedly subject to seasonal altitudinal movements, wintering down to plains in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally fairly common to common across range. Rare in Bhutan (apparently one record, in 1936). Rare in India, with very few records. Fairly common... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Robson, C. (2019). Eyebrowed Wren-babbler (Napothera epilepidota). 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 22 April 2019).