Family Ground Babblers (Pellorneidae)

Near Threatened

Short-tailed Babbler (Trichastoma malaccense)


French: Akalat à queue courte German: Kurzschwanz-Mausdrossling Spanish: Tordina colicorta

B[rachypteryx]. malaccensis


, 1844,

Malacca, Peninsular Malaysia


Has been placed in genus Malacocincla or in Pellorneum. See remarks under T. cinereiceps. Populations in parts of Borneo have been regarded as subspecifically distinct, but variation slight and probably clinal; proposed races sordida (NE Borneo) and saturata (Bangka, Belitung, and W Borneo) both considered synonymous with poliogene, but at least first-named is genetically very distinct#R and multiple cryptic species potentially involved#R. Proposed race feriata (from Mt Mulu, in NW Borneo), based on single specimen, has characters apparently exhibited by juveniles of this species. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. m. malaccense (Hartlaub, 1844) – S Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra (including Riau and Lingga Archipelagos, Banyak and Batu Is#R), Anambas Is and N Natuna Is.
  • T. m. poliogene (Strickland, 1849) – Bangka, Belitung and Borneo.
  • Descriptive notes

    13·5–15·5 cm; 17·5–28 g. Like a small version of M. abbotti, but with very short (often cocked) tail, thinner bill, greyish ear-... read more


    Song a series of 6–7 loud rich whistled notes, descending in pitch, introduced by dry trill... read more


    Primary broadleaf evergreen forest and secondary growth, drier parts of peatswamp-forest, stream... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, including black beetles (Coleoptera), small grasshoppers (Orthoptera) and ants (Formicidae). Usually forages just above or on... read more


    Feb–Sept throughout range, but on Borneo also birds in breeding condition in Nov and nestling in Jan; possibly multi-brooded. Nest a... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. Fairly common to common in continental range. Common in Taman Negara National Park, in Peninsular Malaysia.... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Robson, C. (2019). Short-tailed Babbler (Trichastoma malaccense). 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 26 April 2019).