Family Grasshopper-warblers and Grassbirds (Locustellidae)

Least Concern

Russet Grasshopper-warbler (Locustella mandelli)


French: Locustelle de Mandelli German: Mandellischwirl Spanish: Zarzalero de Mandelli
Other common names: Russet Bush-warbler

Dumeticola mandelli

W. E. Brooks

, 1875,

Sikkim, north India


Previously placed in Bradypterus. Although originally described from Sikkim, presence in India was long overlooked, presumably owing to its superficial similarity to L. luteoventris; references in older literature to “brown” bush-warblers building two types of nest (open cup and domed) indicate possible differences in nest construction between the two species. Birds of C China, previously lumped within nominate/melanorhyncha, recently described as L. chengi. S Vietnamese idonea has been suggested to merit species status on basis of plumage, vocal and mitochondrial DNA evidence; population on Mt Victoria (W Myanmar) differs vocally from other L. mandelli, but no specimens available#R. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. m. mandelli (W. E. Brooks, 1875) – Russet Grasshopper-warbler – NE India (E from Sikkim, extreme N West Bengal and Assam), Bhutan and W & N Myanmar.
  • L. m. melanorhyncha (Rickett, 1898) – N Laos, N Vietnam (Tonkin) and S & SE China (Yunnan, N Guangxi E to N Fujian and S Guangdong); non-breeding also further S at lower altitudes.
  • L. m. idonea (Riley, 1940) – Annam Grasshopper-warbler – Kon Tum Plateau and Da Lat Plateau, in SC Vietnam (Annam).
  • Unknown race (mandelli/melanorhyncha) S China (W Yunnan, S Sichuan) and NW Thailand#R.

    Descriptive notes

    13–14 cm; c. 10 g. A medium-sized chestnut-brown bush-warbler, variable in colour intensity, usually appearing very dark (especially wings and rear end). Nominate race... read more


    Song, from low perch, distinctive (although some transcriptions have confused this species with... read more


    Shrubby thickets, bamboos and tangles of tall grasses, bramble (Rubus) and willows (... read more

    Food and feeding

    No information on food items, other than insects. No detailed information on foraging behaviour; skulking behaviour as that of congeners.


    Few confirmed data. Three clutches, each of four eggs, in late May in NE India (Khasi Hills, in Meghalaya). At least some of details given... read more


    Altitudinal migrant and resident. Descends to lower elevations in winter, reaching plains beyond... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Until recently was confused with L. luteoventris; status now better known, following elucidation of field features,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Madge, S. (2019). Russet Grasshopper-warbler (Locustella mandelli). 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 18 April 2019).