Species of Thailand
Binomial name: Malacocincla abbotti, Edward Blyth, 1845
Abbott's babbler (Malacocincla abbotti) is a species of bird in the Pellorneidae family. It is widely distributed along the Himalayas in South Asia and extending into the forests of Southeast Asia. They are short-tailed and stout birds which forage in pairs in dense undergrowth close to the ground and their presences is indicated by their distinctive calls.
The adult Abbott's babbler is a nondescript brown, short-tailed babbler that moves about in the low vegetation often near streams and in the vicinity of tree ferns and tangled vegetation. The throat is greyish white while the center of the belly is white and the flanks are olive. The undertail coverts are rusty. The sexes are alike. It has a short tail and heavy bill; it is drab olive-brown with bright rusty lower flanks and vent, a greyish-white throat and breast and variable pale grey supercilium and lores. Juvenile birds have dark rufescent-brown crowns and upperparts. The subspecies M. a. krishnarajui of the Eastern Ghats has a darker russet tail and rump than the Himalayan nominate subspecies. Specimens measure 12 – 13 cm in length, with a head of 39 – 44 mm and tail of 55 – 61 mm. The calls are distinctive.
The genus name Malacocincla is derived from the Ancient Greek malakos, meaning soft; combined with modern Latin cinclus, meaning thrush; referring to the birds' full and drooping plumage. The specific name abbotti was given by Edward Blyth after the specimen collector, Lieutenant Colonel J. R. Abbott (1811–1888) who served in British India as Assistant Commissioner of the Arakan from 1837 to 1845. Blyth placed it in a new genus Malacocincla but subsequent workers placed it in Turdinus and Trichastoma. A revision reinstated its placement in Malacocincla in 1985 while a 2001 study confirmed the cohesiveness of the Trichastoma group. An isolated population occurs in the Vishakapatnam Ghats, well separated from the nearest main distribution along the Himalayas and was named after Indian ornithologist K.S.R. Krishnaraju by Dillon Ripley and Bruce Beehler in 1985. The nominate population is from southern Burma and extends to southern Tenasserim and northwestern Malaya including the Langkawi Islands. Several other populations of this widespread species have been named as subspecies and not all are recognized. The population in the eastern Himalayas from eastern Nepal to Sikkim and Assam was named as amabile but is now considered within the nominate subspecies. Others include alterum (=altera, central Laos and Annam), williamsoni (eastern Thailand and northwestern Cambodia), obscurius (= obscurior, coastal southeastern Thailand), olivaceum (Peninsular Thailand and Malaya), sirense (Borneo, Pulau Mata Siri) and baweanum (Bawean Island).
Distribution and habitat
In South Asia, it is resident from Nepal to Arunachal Pradesh and the Assam Valley in India, south throughout the South Assam hills, including Meghalaya and south through the Lushai Hills. It is also resident in east and south Bangladesh (around Jessore and Khulna), and the Eastern Ghats in North-east Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. The altitudinal distribution is up to 600 m (2000 ft), 275 m (900 ft) in Nepal. It is widely distributed across Southeast Asia.
It is common across much of its large range. It is seen in the understory of broadleaved evergreen forest, forest edge, secondary growth and scrub. In Singapore, they have been noted as being tolerant to disturbance and adapting to secondary growth and disturbed forest.
Behaviour and ecology
Abbott's babbler usually moves around in pairs close to the ground. They breed from April to July (summer monsoon), with the nest being a carefully placed but bulky cup low in palms or other undergrowth. A study in Thailand found that most nests are placed in spiny palms and rattans. The usual clutch is 3 to 5 eggs which are bright salmon with dark blotches and red lines. When disturbed at the nest, the bird slip over the edge and fly with laboured wing beats and then hop out of sight. More than one brood may be raised in a season.
Their distinctive calls consists of three or four notes with the a drop on the middle note. The antiphonal duet of a male and female has the male leading with a "poor'ol bear" followed by the females "dear dear". The tunes may however change over time. The birds tend to remain within a well marked area and do not wander widely. The song is a variable short series of around three to four notes of rich, fluty, liquid, slurred, short whistled notes; these are sometimes delivered haltingly and sometimes rapidly. The evening group song consists of a recurrent sputtering churrr sound, which is low and slurred; ending with a sharp chreep. Calls include soft mewing notes, and a pulsing, purring trill when agitated.
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Videos of Abbott's babbler
- Malacocincla abbotti
Malacocincla abbotti abbotti, Edward Blyth, 1845
Malacocincla abbotti altera, Sims, 1957
Malacocincla abbotti baweana, Harry Church Oberholser, 1917
Malacocincla abbotti concreta, Johann Büttikofer, 1895
Malacocincla abbotti krishnarajui, Sidney Dillon Ripley & Bruce M. Beehler, 1985
Malacocincla abbotti obscurior, Herbert Girton Deignan, 1948
Malacocincla abbotti olivacea, Strickland, 1847
Malacocincla abbotti williamsoni, Herbert Girton Deignan, 1948
- Trichastoma abbotti
- Turdinus abbotti
Least Concern (IUCN3.1)
- Ao Phang-Nga National Park
- Bang Lang National Park
- Chaloem Phrakiat Thai Prachan National Park
- Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park
- Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary
- Hat Wanakon National Park
- Kaeng Krachan District, Phetchaburi
- Kaeng Krachan National Park
- Kaeng Krung National Park
- Kanthararom District, Sisaket
- Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary
- Khao Chong
- Khao Lak - Lam Ru National Park
- Khao Luang National Park
- Khao Nan National Park
- Khao Nang Panthurat Forest Park
- Khao Phanom Bencha National Park
- Khao Phra - Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary
- Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Sanctuary
- Khao Pu - Khao Ya National Park
- Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary
- Khao Sok National Park
- Khao Yai National Park
- Khlong Phanom National Park
- Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary
- Khuan Khanun District, Phatthalung
- Khura Buri District, Phang Nga
- Ko Tao
- Kromluang Chumphon Wildlife Sanctuary
- Kui Buri National Park
- Mae Moei National Park
- Mae Wong National Park
- Mu Ko Surin National Park
- Mueang Nakhon Nayok District, Nakhon Nayok
- Mueang Pattani District, Pattani
- Mueang Phatthalung District, Phatthalung
- Nam Nao National Park
- Pachee River Wildlife Sanctuary
- Pak Thale
- Pang Sida National Park
- Pathio District, Chumphon
- Pha Nam Yoi Forest Park
- Phato District, Chumphon
- Phu Foi Lom National Park
- Ramkhamhaeng National Park
- Sakaerat Environmental Research Station
- San Kala Khiri National Park
- Sri Phang-nga National Park
- Tai Rom Yen National Park
- Tarutao National Marine Park
- Tha Sala District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
- Thale Ban National Park
- Yan Ta Khao District, Trang
Range map of Malacocincla abbotti in Thailand
Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.
Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.
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