Abbott’s Babbler   Malacocincla abbotti

Etymology :

  • Malacocincla : Greek word malakos –soft; kinklos – small unidentified waterside bird.
  • Abbotti: Named after British officer -Col. J. R. Abbott (1811–1888)

 Distribution in India: Resident of Himalayan foothills and North East India.

Description: Size of 15–17 cm; Wt. of 26–32 g. It is a medium-sized hook-billed babbler, chunky, rather short-tailed and nondescript, brown above and greyish white to buff-tan below, with vague eyering and eyebrow. The nominate race has crown, upperparts and upperwing dull olive-brown, crown is with weak buff shaft-streaks, tail is slightly browner and with strong rufescent wash basally. The lores and supercilium are greyish, ear-coverts and neck side are buffy olive-brown, submoustachial area is buffish grey; chin, throat and upper breast are greyish-white, shading on breast side, flanks and belly are buffy rufous and on lower flanks, thighs and vent are bright rufous-buff. The iris is light brown or reddish brown; upper mandible is blackish-horn, lower mandible is paler; legs are brownish flesh. Both the sexes are similar. The juvenile has crown and upperparts dark rufescent brown.

Habitat: It is found in degraded broadleaf evergreen and semi-evergreen forest, riverine forest and swampy coastal scrub, peat swamp-forest, back edges of mangroves, palm and transitional habitats, mixed plantation-natural forest, secondary growth, forest edges along banks of streams, thickets and edge habitat. It is found from lowland up to 1100 m.

Food Habits: It eats Insects and small invertebrates. It forages solitary or in pairs, on or near ground. It forages with deliberate slow movements among leaf litter, investigating niches in low tangled vegetation; often tame.

Breeding Habits:  It breeds in Apr–May in Bhutan, Jan–Sept in SE Asia, Dec–Jan on Sumatra, May–Jun in Brunei and Jul–Aug in Kalimantan. The nest is a bulky, open, sometimes deep cup, made of dead leaves, bracken fronds, weed stems, moss, grasses, black fern roots and rootlets, lined, often scantily, with rather coarse red roots, fine hair-like fibres, black fungal hyphae, fine black fern stems and leaf stalks, placed in bush, briars, weeds, clump of creepers or ferns, base of frond in spiny rattan or fan palm and sometimes on ground. It lays a clutch of 2–5 eggs. The incubation period is 14–15 days. The nestling period is 11 days. The post-fledging dependence period is 7–9 weeks .Brood parasitism done by Violet Cuckoo.