Thai National Parks

Species of Thailand

Moustached babbler

Malacopteron magnirostre, Frederic Moore, 1854

(In Thai: นกกินแมลงหัวสีน้ำตาล)

The moustached babbler (Malacopteron magnirostre) is a species of bird in the ground babbler family Pellorneidae. The species is also known as the brown-headed babbler or brown-headed tree-babbler.

Taxonomy and systematics

This species has two subspecies, the nominate race M. m. magnirostre and the subspecies M. m. cinereocapilla (Salvadori, 1868). A third subspecies, flavum, from the Anamba Islands, is sometimes recognised but is usually merged into the nominate race. The specific name magnirostre comes from the Latin magnus for big and rostris for billed. The name for the subspecies cinereocapilla comes from the Latin cinereus for ash/ashy and capillus for headed.

Distribution and habitat

The moustached babbler is found in Sundaland. The nominate race is found in southern Burma and Thailand through Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra, and the subspecies M. m. cinereocapilla is endemic to Borneo. Formerly, it could be found in the forests of Singapore, but it is now likely extinct there.

Its natural habitat is tropical moist primary lowland forests, peatswamp forest, secondary forest, logged forests and old rubber plantations, from 915 m, rarely to 1200 m. It is suggested that this species, since it prefers logged forest to primary forest, could be used as a habitat indicator.


The moustached babbler is 18 cm long and weighs between 16 - 25 g. The plumage is dull brown above and whitish below. The crown is olive-brown in the nominate race, with a grey loral stripe and .


The moustached babbler feeds on insects, including on beetles and locusts. They feed in mid-story, from 4 – 6 m off the ground.

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Category / Seasonal Status

BCST Category: Recorded in an apparently wild state within the last 50 years

BCST Seasonal status: Resident or presumed resident

Scientific classification

Malacopteron magnirostre

Common names

  • Thai: นกกินแมลงหัวสีน้ำตาล

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Near Threatened (IUCN3.1)

Near Threatened (ONEP)

Near Threatened (IUCN3.1)

Near Threatened (BCST)


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Moustached babbler

Range Map

Distribution map of Moustached babbler, Malacopteron magnirostre in Thailand
  • Bang Lang National Park
  • Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Banthat Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Chong
  • Khao Luang National Park
  • Khao Nam Khang National Park
  • Khao Phanom Bencha National Park
  • Khao Phra - Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Sok National Park
  • Kui Buri National Park
  • Mueang Krabi District, Krabi
  • San Kala Khiri National Park
  • Sri Phang-nga National Park
  • Thale Ban National Park
  • Ton Nga-Chang Wildlife Sanctuary
Range map of Malacopteron magnirostre in Thailand