Family Cupwings (Pnoepygidae)

Least Concern

Scaly-breasted Cupwing (Pnoepyga albiventer)


French: Microure à ventre blanc German: Himalajazwergpfeifer Spanish: Ratina ventriblanca
Other common names: Scaly-breasted Wren-babbler

[Tesia] Albiventer


, 1837,

Ilam district, eastern Nepal


Formerly treated as conspecific with P. formosana. Form mutica recently revived from synonymy with nominate and claimed for species status on basis of genetic and vocal distinctiveness of specimens sampled#R, but these were far apart; vocal samples from intermediate areas indicate a cline#R, and mutica therefore accorded subspecific status. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. a. pallidior Kinnear, 1924 – N India (W Himachal Pradesh) E to WC Nepal.
  • P. a. albiventer (Hodgson, 1837) – Scaly-breasted Cupwing – EC Nepal E to Bhutan and NE Indian hill states (except Meghalaya), S China (S & SE Xizang), N & W Myanmar and N Vietnam (W Tonkin).
  • P. a. mutica Thayer & Bangs, 1912 – Chinese Cupwing – SC China (NW Yunnan, S, C & NE Sichuan and W Hubei)#R.
  • Descriptive notes

    8·5–10 cm; 19–23 g. Small, almost tailless olive-backed babbler with pale scaling below; in two morphs. Nominate race pale morph (“white-scaled... read more


    Has rapid high-pitched, sweet, tinkling, jumbled warbler-like song (1·5–2 seconds long... read more


    Mainly occurs near water in undergrowth in damp shady cool broadleaf, fir, hemlock and birch forest... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects and seeds. Solitary in winter, in pairs during breeding season. Mostly terrestrial. Creeps about in dense tangled undergrowth,... read more


    Mar–Aug. Nest a globular structure, entrance two-thirds up one side, very like that of Northern Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes... read more


    Resident; some seasonal altitudinal movements, e.g. in India found in Dehra Dun valley and Corbett... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not assessed. Common in Bhutan, where in non-breeding season concentrations of up to ten birds occur in areas of 1–2 km², although breeding densities relatively... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Robson, C. (2019). Scaly-breasted Cupwing (Pnoepyga albiventer). 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 October 2019).