Family Scimitar-babblers and allies (Timaliidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-capped Babbler (Cyanoderma ruficeps)


French: Timalie de Blyth German: Rotkopf-Buschtimalie Spanish: Timalí coronirrojo

Stachyris ruficeps


, 1847,

Darjeeling, India


Geographical variation slight; some races possibly untenable, but considerable genetic structure exists between certain populations, although overall phylogeographic structure is complex#R. Birds observed in C Laos may belong with nominate race of present species or with race insuspectum of C. rufifrons; further study required. Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. r. ruficeps (Blyth, 1847) – E Nepal E to NE India (E Arunachal Pradesh) and adjacent S China (SE Xizang).
  • C. r. rufipectus (Koelz, 1954) – E Arunachal Pradesh S to Nagaland, N Manipur and S Assam (N Cachar), in NE India.
  • C. r. bhamoense (Harington, 1908) – NE Myanmar and S China (W & NW Yunnan).
  • C. r. davidi (Oustalet, 1899) – C & SE China (S Shaanxi S to C Sichuan and S & E Yunnan, E to Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong), NW Laos and N Vietnam (Tonkin).
  • C. r. goodsoni (Rothschild, 1903) – Hainan.
  • C. r. praecognitum (Swinhoe, 1866) – Taiwan.
  • C. r. paganum (Riley, 1940) – S Laos, S Vietnam (C & S Annam) and NE Cambodia (Mondolkiri area)#R.
  • Introduced in Hong Kong.

    Descriptive notes

    12 cm; 7–12 g. Small, sharp-billed, pale olive and yellowish-buff babbler with rufous crown. Nominate race has crown and nape bright rufous, upperparts and neck side... read more


    Song a variable sequence of very short loud whistles, “pi-pi-pi-pi-pi-pi-pi”, often with softer,... read more


    Broadleaf evergreen forest, bamboo stands, thick secondary bush growth in clearings; 600–3200... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, occasionally berries. In pairs during breeding season, otherwise in small foraging parties, often in mixed company with other... read more


    Apr–Jul across range. Nest a deep cup or neat or loose uneven ball, oval or cone, entrance at side, often towards top, made of dry or... read more


    Resident, or with minor local altitudinal movements; in India reportedly a winter visitor in Nameri... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common in far E Nepal. In Bhutan, common in temperate zone but scarce in W valleys; present in Thrumshingla National Park. Fairly common in NE... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Robson, C. (2019). Rufous-capped Babbler (Cyanoderma 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 19 February 2019).