Family Laughingthrushes and allies (Leiotrichidae)

Least Concern

Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea)


French: Léiothrix jaune German: Rotschnabel-Sonnenvogel Spanish: Leiótrix piquirrojo

Sylvia (lutea

) Scopoli

, 1786,

mountains of Anhui, China


Form described as “L. astleyi”, known only from a pair of live individuals shipped from S China, is considered to represent a mutation caused by long period in captivity. Birds from S Assam hills (India) named as race luteola, but inseparable from calipyga. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. l. kumaiensis Whistler, 1943 – NW Himalayas from NE Pakistan E to N India (Uttarakhand).
  • L. l. calipyga (Hodgson, 1837) – Nepal E to Bhutan, NE Indian hill states, S China (SE Xizang), and extreme NW Myanmar (possibly S to N Chin Hills).
  • L. l. yunnanensis Rothschild, 1921 – NE Myanmar and S China (W & NW Yunnan).
  • L. l. lutea (Scopoli, 1786) – SC & E China (C Sichuan, S Gansu and S Shaanxi E to C Anhui, S Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian, S to Guizhou and N Guangxi).
  • L. l. kwangtungensis Stresemann, 1923 – S & SE China (SE Yunnan E to C Guangxi, S Hunan and Guangdong) and N Vietnam (W & E Tonkin).
  • Introduced in Hawaii#R, Japan#R, Reunion I#R, and several European countries such as France#R, Italy, Germany and NE Spain (Catalonia#R).

    Descriptive notes

    14–15 cm; 18–28 g. Small olive-grey babbler with forked tail, red bill, yellow throat, orange-yellow breast, and red to yellow wing markings. Male nominate race... read more


    Song long and complex, a rather rapid, fluty warble of up to 15 notes, variable in structure, to... read more


    Thick undergrowth in more open broadleaf evergreen, pine and mixed forests, forest edge, secondary... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects; also berries and seeds, including those of grass and Rhus. In Hong Kong study, Aug–May, 58% of 55 faecal samples... read more


    Apr–Oct generally, and song mid-May to Aug in Bhutan; in Japan (introduced) season extends from late Apr to early Oct; multi-brooded... read more


    Resident. Reported seasonal altitudinal displacements in Bhutan and elsewhere in Himalayas (... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. CITES II. Very scarce, perhaps only vagrant, in Pakistan. Fairly common in Nepal. Common throughout temperate zone in Bhutan, where present in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N., Robson, C. & de Juana, E. (2020). Red-billed Leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea). 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).