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Rufous-capped Babbler - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Red-headed Babbler; Rufous-crowned Babbler

Photo by thirudevaram
Cangshan, Yunnan, China, April 2013
Cyanoderma ruficeps

Stachyris ruficeps; Stachyridopsis ruficeps


7 - 12cm. A small babbler:

Sexes similar. Juveniles with duller crown and very similar to juveniles of Rufous-fronted Babbler and Buff-chested Babbler.

Confusion species

Very similar to Rufous-fronted Babbler and Buff-chested Babbler which lack yellowish suffusion and is whiter on throat and belly. Note also range and altitude.


Found from east Nepal over Bhutan to northeast India, Burma, much of south and southeast China, Taiwan, Laos and Vietnam.
Common in most of its range.


Formerly placed in the genus Stachyris or in Stachyridopsis.


Clements recognizes these subspecies[1]:

  • C. r. ruficeps from eastern Nepal to Bhutan, adjacent southern China (southeastern Xizang), northeastern India (Arunachal Pradesh, south to southern Assam and northern Manipur), and western Myanmar
  • C. r. davidi in central and southeast China, northwest Laos and north Vietnam
  • C. r. bhamoense in northeast Burma and south China (Yunnan)
  • C. r. goodsoni on Hainan (China)
  • C. r. praecognitum on Taiwan
  • C. r. paganum in south Laos and south Vietnam

The formerly recognized subspecies rufipectis is now considered synonymous with ruficeps.


Broadleaf evergreen forest, secondary bush growth in clearings and bamboo stands. Found at 600 - 3200m in the Indian Subcontinent, 200 - 2500m in China, 950 - 2195m in southeast Asia.


Feeds on insects, takes sometimes also berries.
Outside breeding season in small groups, often together with other species. Forages in lower and middle storey.
Breeding season from April to July. The nest is a deep cup or a ball with a side entrance. It's made of bamboo leaves. leaf skeletons, fine grasses, rooots, bark, moss and fibres. It's placed in a low bush, clump of bamboo or among thick tangled vegetation usually 1 - 2m above ground. Lays 3 - 5 eggs.
Resident species with some altitudinal movement.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2022. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2022. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2023. IOC World Bird List (v 13.2). Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.13.2. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  3. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2007. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553422
  4. Rasmussen, PC and JC Anderton. 2005. Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334672

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