Family Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-tailed Tailorbird (Orthotomus sericeus)


French: Couturière à queue rousse German: Rotschwanz-Schneidervogel Spanish: Sastrecillo colirrufo

Orthotomus sericeus


, 1836,



Distinctive; previously considered closest to O. ruficeps, but molecular data place it as sister to O. frontalis#R. For some time there was much confusion over names of present species, O. ruficeps and O. sepium; consequently, some statements in recent literature require reconfirmation. Proposed race nuntius (Cagayan Sulu, Philippines) included in nominate; however, population of Palawan, which has never been named, has proved genetically distinct, to point where (in one opinion) slightest phenotypic difference would be considered sufficient to carry it to species rank#R (comparison of voices reveals no obvious differences, but targeted sampling might reveal subtle or average distinctions). Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. s. hesperius Oberholser, 1932 – extreme S Myanmar (S Tenasserim) and S Thailand S to Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Belitung I.
  • O. s. rubicundulus Chasen & Kloss, 1931 – Natuna Is, including Serasan.
  • O. s. sericeus Temminck, 1836 – Borneo and W & SW Philippines (Busuanga, Culion, Palawan, Balabac, Cagayan Sulu, and S Sulu islands of Omapoy, Sitanki, Sipangkot, Sibutu and Tumindao).
  • Descriptive notes

    12–13.5 cm; c. 7 g. Rather short-tailed tailorbird with relatively long bill slightly decurved towards tip, bright chestnut hood contrasting with strikingly white... read more


    Song a loud, rapidly repeated series of couplets, with slightly more emphasis on first note, e.g.... read more


    Forest edges and clearings in lowlands (to 400 m), especially open scrubby places; locally in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food very small insects. Forages alone or in pairs. Far more often heard than seen; keeps very much to low undergrowth. Has curious hunting... read more


    Nesting reported in Jan–Aug in SE Asia, Feb–Jun in Philippines and May–Jul on Borneo. Nest pouch constructed by sewing... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Relatively common at most lowland forested sites both on mainland and on a large number of the islands which it inhabits. Greatly... read more

    Recommended citation

    Madge, S. (2020). Rufous-tailed Tailorbird (Orthotomus sericeus). 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 23 February 2020).