Family Ground Babblers (Pellorneidae)

Least Concern

Puff-throated Babbler (Pellorneum ruficeps)


French: Akalat à poitrine tachetée German: Streifenbrust-Erddrossling Spanish: Tordina pechiestriada

Pellorneum ruficeps


, 1832,

Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, India


Race present in N Myanmar uncertain, presumed to be pectorale; similarly, in Cambodia, race in NE presumably ubonense, in E deignani, and in SE dilloni. Despite large number of named races, several more may exist, e.g. in Myanmar (Arakan, and in Sittang Valley), NC plains of Thailand, and Peninsular Malaysia (Langkawi I). Races chamelum and ripleyi perhaps best united within mandellii#R. Name granti has been used in place of olivaceum#R, but evidence for the change deemed insufficient#R. Twenty-eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. r. punctatum (Gould, 1838) – SW Jammu and Kashmir E to Uttarakhand, in N India.
  • P. r. mandellii Blanford, 1871 – Nepal E to NE India (C Arunachal Pradesh).
  • P. r. ruficeps Swainson, 1832 – peninsular India except S.
  • P. r. olivaceum Jerdon, 1839 – SW India.
  • P. r. pallidum Abdulali, 1982 – SE India.
  • P. r. chamelum Deignan, 1947 – NE Indian states S of R Brahmaputra (except Manipur) and E Bangladesh.
  • P. r. pectorale Godwin-Austen, 1877 – NE India (E Arunachal Pradesh) and extreme N Myanmar.
  • P. r. ripleyi Deignan, 1947 – Margherita area of E Assam (NE India).
  • P. r. vocale Deignan, 1951 – Manipur Valley (NE India).
  • P. r. stageri Deignan, 1947 – S part of N Myanmar.
  • P. r. hilarum Deignan, 1947 – W (N Chin State) & C Myanmar.
  • P. r. victoriae Deignan, 1947 – C & S Chin State (W Myanmar).
  • P. r. shanense Deignan, 1947 – E Myanmar and S China (W & SW Yunnan).
  • P. r. minus A. O. Hume, 1873 – S Myanmar.
  • P. r. subochraceum Swinhoe, 1871 – SE Myanmar (including N Tenasserim) and adjacent W Thailand.
  • P. r. insularum Deignan, 1947 – extreme S Myanmar (S Tenasserim).
  • P. r. indistinctum Deignan, 1947 – extreme NW Thailand.
  • P. r. chthonium Deignan, 1947 – NW Thailand (except extreme N).
  • P. r. elbeli Deignan, 1956 – NE Thailand.
  • P. r. dusiti Dickinson & Chaiyaphun, 1970 – W slope of Dong Phraya Fai Range (W part of NE Thailand).
  • P. r. acrum Deignan, 1947 – W & S Thailand and N Peninsular Malaysia.
  • P. r. oreum Deignan, 1947 – S China (S Yunnan), N Laos and NW Vietnam (W Tonkin).
  • P. r. vividum La Touche, 1921 – SE Yunnan and N & C Vietnam (E Tonkin, N & C Annam).
  • P. r. ubonense Deignan, 1947 – NE (E part) Thailand, S Laos and adjacent NE Cambodia.
  • P. r. euroum Deignan, 1947 – SE Thailand and Cambodia (except E).
  • P. r. deignani Delacour, 1951 – S Vietnam (S Annam) and adjacent E Cambodia.
  • P. r. dilloni Delacour, 1951 – S Vietnam (Cochinchina) and adjacent SE Cambodia.
  • P. r. smithi Riley, 1924 – coastal islands off SE Thailand.
  • Descriptive notes

    15–17 cm; 21–31 g. Smallish babbler, pale brown above and buffy white below, with distinctive head pattern and broad streaks on breast and flanks. Nominate race... read more


    Song a repeated loud, shrill, quite high-pitched “wi-chu” or “wi-ti-chu”,... read more


    Inhabits floor and understorey of deciduous or broadleaf evergreen forest, teak forest, secondary... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including cockroaches (Blattodea). Found in pairs or small parties. Forages on ground, rummaging among and turning over dead... read more


    Mar–Aug; multi-brooded. Nest described as a large, flimsy ball or dome, with entrance at side, or a semi-dome or cup, sheltered by... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally common. Locally fairly common in C & E Nepal, rarer above 915 m. Frequently and regularly recorded in Bhutan. Generally common in India... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Robson, C. (2019). Puff-throated Babbler (Pellorneum ruficeps). 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 25 April 2019).