Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-fronted Tailorbird (Orthotomus frontalis)


French: Couturière à front roux German: Kastanienstirn-Schneidervogel Spanish: Sastrecillo frentirrufo

Orthotomus frontalis


, 1877,

Zamboanga, Mindanao, Philippines


Has been treated as conspecific with O. atrogularis and O. castaneiceps. Differs from former in marked plumage characters and from latter (with or without the inclusion of O. chloronotus) genetically#R and in its rufous mask and grey crown vs rufous crown (3); less extensive white-on-slate streaking on breast of respective males (1); smaller size, with markedly shorter tail (2)#R; and wholly different song, a long rattling series that typically accelerates and rises slightly in pitch, with many more repeated notes (3) and faster pace (2)#R. Two subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. f. frontalis Sharpe, 1877 – Samar, Calicoan, Biliran, Leyte, Bohol, Dinagat, Siargao and Mindanao (including islets of Cabo and Balut), in EC & S Philippines.
  • O. f. mearnsi McGregor, 1907 – Basilan (S Philippines).
  • Descriptive notes

    12 cm; c. 7 g. Typical tailorbird, having graduated tail, relatively long bill slightly decurved towards tip. Nominate race has forehead, lores and patch around eye rufous-... read more


    Song a drawn-out “de, de, drer-r-r-rw”, first few notes forced, final few more rapid, rather like... read more


    Lowland forest, especially forest edges and clearings with rank secondary growth.

    Food and feeding

    Food insects, but no precise details available. Forages in low undergrowth, where difficult to observe; behaviour much as that of O.... read more


    Potential differences from O. castaneiceps unclarified. Nesting reported in Mar on Basilan (race mearnsi). Nest near tip... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Relatively common at most forested sites within its limited range. This species’ tolerance of secondary growth is very much in its favour.

    Recommended citation

    Madge, S. (2019). Rufous-fronted Tailorbird (Orthotomus frontalis). 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 20 August 2019).