Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler

Slender-billed scimitar babbler  Xiphirhynchus superciliaris


  • Xiphirhynchus : Greek Word xiphos -sword; rhamphos -bill. {Sword billed}
  • Superciliaris: Latin Word for “Eyebrowed”

Vernacular Names: Lepcha: Karriok-tamveep

Distribution in India: Resident of Central and Eastern Himalayas and North East in India.

Description: Size 20 cm; Wt. of 27–30 g. It is a drab brown babbler with darkish grey head, white supercilium and astonishingly long, slender and decurved bill. The nominate race has a slaty grey crown and nape, side of face are similar but ear-coverts are paler on lower edge, lores are black, dotted white supercilium from bill base to nape, chin is mid-grey, throat with vague mid-grey and white streaking; remaining of body plumage above and below are dull rufous-brown, paler on underparts but with mid-grey thighs. The iris varies from pale grey or greyish-yellow to tan or dark brown; bill is blackish, tip of lower mandible is brown or paler; legs are bluish-slaty to dark brownish-olive. Both the sexes are similar.

Habitat: It is found in bamboo thickets in temperate forest; damp broadleaf forest with thick undergrowth, stunted oak forest with heavy undergrowth, mixed oak and rhododendron forest, thick secondary scrub, dense undergrowth, shrubberies and shrubland. It is found from 600 m up to 3500 m.

Food habits: It eats beetles, ants and other insects, larvae; berries and nectar. It is found in small, restless, noisy parties, sometimes in association with other babblers. It hunts on ground, progressing in long rat-like hops, or in undergrowth, commonly ascending into leafless Silk cotton tree and other flowering trees for nectar. It feeds mostly in bamboo.

Breeding habits: They breed in Apr–Jul in India. The nest is a large globular structure with entrance at one end, or blunt cone on its side with entrance at broad end. The nest is made of dry bamboo, orchid or other leaves, green or dry grasses, creeper stems, fine roots, and fibers, lined with fine roots and fibers, placed on ground, among grass, in bush or on top of stump, above ground. They lay a clutch 3–5 eggs.