Family Ground Babblers (Pellorneidae)

Least Concern

Scaly-crowned Babbler (Malacopteron cinereum)


French: Akalat à calotte maillée German: Schuppenstirn-Zweigdrossling Spanish: Tordina coroniescamada

Malacopteron cinereus

[sic] Eyton

, 1839,

Peninsular Malaysia


Race indochinense differs in vocalizations, plumage and mitochondrial DNA, and has been recommended for species status#R, yet race rufifrons is morphologically, but not vocally, like indochinense. Proposed race bungurense (from N Natuna Is) merged with nominate. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. c. indochinense (Robinson & Kloss, 1921) – Indochinese Babbler – E Thailand, Cambodia, C & S Laos and Vietnam (S from SE Tonkin).
  • M. c. cinereum Eyton, 1839 – Scaly-crowned Babbler – S Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra (including Batu Is, Riau and Lingga Archipelagos, and Bangka I), N Natuna Is and Borneo.
  • M. c. niasense (Riley, 1937) – Nias I, off W Sumatra.
  • M. c. rufifrons Cabanis, 1851 – W & C Java.
  • Descriptive notes

    14–16 cm; 14–21 g. Rather similar to M. affine, but paler above, with black-tipped dull rufous anterior crown, pale legs. Nominate race has erectile... read more


    Song variable, with four main parts which can be combined in various ways: first part a rapidly... read more


    Primary broadleaf evergreen forest, second growth, coastal swamp-forest, upland kerangas,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates, including beetles (Coleoptera), surprisingly large locustids, ants (Formicidae), grubs, spiders (Araneae); also some fruits... read more


    Feb–Oct in SE Asia; in Borneo, Jul–Aug in Sarawak, breeding-condition birds May–Jul in Sabah, and May–Sept in... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally common resident in SE Asian range, but apparently local in Cambodia. Common in Khao Pra-Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary, in Thailand, and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Robson, C. (2019). Scaly-crowned Babbler (Malacopteron cinereum). 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 April 2019).