Indian Scimitar Babbler

Indian Scimitar Babbler    Pomatorhinus horsfieldii

They belong to the family of old-world Babblers. Their long downward curved Beak gives them this name.


  • Pomatorhinus: pomatos – lid, cover; rhinos- nostrils. {Lid covered nostrils}
  • Horsfieldii: Ornithologist Dr Thomas Horsfield (1773–1859) US naturalist

Vernacular Names: Hindi: Salehi-sir priyvand, Sans: Dhum-shirsh priyvand, Ben: Pabdoa, Cachar: Dao-buku-galao, Lepcha: Phoyeum-pho, Pharreeum-pho, Guj: Vapi laledo, Vankichanch lelum, Mar: Krushnshir saatbhai, Bakchoch Satbhai, Te: Namala pitta, Dasari pitta, Mal: Cholakkutuvan, Sinh: Parandel-kurulla

Distribution in India: Resident of Peninsular Indian hills

Description: Size of 22 cm; wt. of 33–53 g. It is a smallish scimitar-babbler, dark olive above and white below, with white supercilium, dark eye and yellow bill. The nominate race has slaty olive crown with blackish lateral crownstripe, upperparts and upperwing are dark olive, tail is blackish-brown; long supercilium from above nares to upper neck side white .The lores, cheek and ear-coverts are black; chin and submoustachial area to lower belly is white, neck side, breast side and flanks are blackish with irregular white flecks, lower underparts blackish-olive; iris is reddish-brown; bill is yellow, variably dark brown along basal culmen; legs are dusky pinkish-flesh. Both the sexes are similar. The juvenile lacks black lateral crownstripe, upperparts are more golden olive-brown, white feathers of lower throat with faint black tips, lower underparts are washed and mottled with rufous. The race obscurus is paler, more smoky grey, with neck and breast sides concolorous with upperparts; maderaspatensis is more olive-toned on upperparts and flanks; travancoreensis is richer olive-brown above.

Habitat: It is found in deciduous, moist deciduous, semi-evergreen and evergreen forest, cardamom sholas, bamboo patches, thorn and lantana scrub, and dense bush-jungle. It is found from 900–2400 m

Food Habits: It eats insects , grubs, spiders ,berries and flower nectar. It is found in pairs during breeding season, in small parties often in association with mixed feeding parties. It forages on ground under dense undergrowth, flicking aside or turning over leaves or digging vigorously in mulch. Also hops along moss-covered branches or up trunks of trees.

Breeding Habits: They breed from Oct–Jun. The nest is built by both sexes. The nest is a loose, large, dome, with entrance on upper side, or a semi-domed cup, made of dead or decaying leaves, dry grasses, moss and moss roots, plant stems, grass roots, rootlets and fibrous bark strips, lined with fine grasses, moss roots, rootlets and dead leaves, placed on ground among dead leaves or moss, in or at base of bush or shrub, in clump of ferns or grass, in recess in trail side bank, on rock ledge or in crevice or hollow in tree trunk. They lay a clutch 2–5 eggs.