Sooty-capped babbler -- 纯色树鹛 (Malacopteron affine)

Sooty-capped babbler
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Sooty-capped babbler fact file

Sooty-capped babbler description

GenusMalacopteron (1)

A small songbird endemic to Southeast Asia, the sooty-capped babbler (Malacopteron affine) has a charming song consisting of eight whistling notes on a scale that rises and falls (2) (3) (4).

The plumage of the sooty-capped babbler is largely brownish, with greyish upperparts and, as its common name suggests, a dark, slate-coloured crown (2) (4). The juvenile sooty-capped babbler can be distinguished from the adult by its paler crown (5).

Length: 17 cm (2)

Sooty-capped babbler biology

Little is known about the biology of this elusive bird. While foraging, the sooty-capped babbler flits from branch to branch, resting briefly on creepers and twigs as it plucks invertebrates from the foliage (2) (4).

The nest of the sooty-capped babbler is a small cup situated above the ground, in a densely-leaved tree (4). Little other information is available on the breeding behaviour of this species.


Sooty-capped babbler range

The sooty-capped babbler is distributed throughout peninsular Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, and Sumatra and Kalimantan in Indonesia (3).


Sooty-capped babbler habitat

The sooty-capped babbler inhabits lowland rainforests, at elevations up to 700 metres (3). While it prefers primary rainforest, it also inhabits nearby secondary forest and forest edges (2) (4).

This species has also been recorded in selectively logged forest, peat-swamp forests and overgrown plantations (3).


Sooty-capped babbler status

The sooty-capped babbler is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Near Threatened


Sooty-capped babbler threats

Deforestation is the greatest threat to the sooty-capped babbler (3). Illegal logging and land conversion have rapidly destroyed vast areas of forest within this species’ range, while forest fires have also damaged its habitat, particularly in 1997 and 1998 (3).

Fortunately, the sooty-capped babbler’s ability to survive in secondary forest and selectively logged forest provides some hope for the species, and means that it is not at immediate risk of extinction (3).


Sooty-capped babbler conservation

Currently, no specific conservation measures are known to be in place for the sooty-capped babbler. However, many conservation organisations are working in the region to preserve the remaining forest and safeguard its biodiversity (6) (7).

Recommended conservation measures for the sooty-capped babbler include population surveys, further studies into its habitat requirements, and measures to reduce the impacts of forest fires. The area of suitable protected habitat also needs to be increased, and the management of existing protected areas improved (3).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

Find out more about the sooty-capped babbler and its conservation:

Learn more about conservation in Indonesia and Malaysia:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Animals with no backbone, such as insects, worms and spiders.
Primary rainforest
Rainforest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.
Secondary forest
Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.


  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2011)
  2. Strange, M. (2001) A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Indonesia. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
  3. BirdLife International - Sooty-capped babbler (June, 2011)
  4. Strange, M. (2000) A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Southeast Asia. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
  5. Robson, C. (2007) Birds of South-East Asia. New Holland Publishers, London.
  6. The Nature Conservancy - Indonesia (June, 2011)
  7. WWF - Malaysia (June, 2011)

Image credit

Sooty-capped babbler  
Sooty-capped babbler

© Chong Boon Leong

Chong Boon Leong


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