email a friend
printable version
Melodious Babbler Malacopteron palawanense
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species is listed as Near Threatened because it is suspected to be in moderately rapid decline as a result of habitat loss. Its tolerance of habitat modification suggests that it is not declining more rapidly than this; however, close monitoring is required, as the secondary habitats preferred by the species may be some of the most threatened in its range.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Distribution and population
Malacopteron palawanense is endemic to Palawan and Balabac in the Philippines, with records on Palawan (including from Tanabag, Iwahig Penal Colony and Puerto Princesa), Inagauan, Quezon (including from Tabon and Bungalon), Taguso, Pulot, Brooke's Point, Singnapan, and adjacent areas. It is described as uncommon, although surveys in the 1990s found it to occur at good densities in remaining pockets of suitable habitat. The species is apparently localised in occurrence, appearing to be very scarce in St Paul's Subterranean River National Park (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2013), with currently the best protection seemingly afforded by the Iwahig Penal Colony.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as uncommon (del Hoyo et al. 2007).

Trend justification
This species is suspected to be experiencing a moderately rapid population decline, owing to high rates of forest clearance on Palawan. Its tolerance of secondary and modified habitats (Mallari et al. 2011) suggests that the rate of decline is not more rapid than this.

This species occurs in primary and secondary lowland evergreen forest, bamboo and forest edge. It is recorded most frequently in vine tangles within the middle and upper strata of low trees (del Hoyo et al. 2007). Recent surveys in Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park recorded the species in both early and advanced secondary growth, as well as habitats within agricultural areas (Mallari et al. 2011), suggesting a substantial tolerance of habitat modification. However, it appears to have very specific habitat requirements, probably needing secondary forest with abundant tangled vegetation and bamboo (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2013). It may be an extreme lowland specialist, and its absence from apparently suitable areas in St Paul's Subterranean River National Park suggests that habitat specialisation does indeed influence its distribution.

The loss, degradation and fragmentation of lowland forest are the major threatening processes, despite the species's tolerance of modified habitats. Deforestation in lowland Palawan has been extensive, and logging and mining concessions have been granted for almost all remaining forests on the island. Illegal logging is thought to persist in the remaining extensive forest of the south. Forest at Iwahig Penal Colony, a key site, may be threatened by plans to mine chromite. Furthermore, the tall secondary habitats preferred by the species are perhaps the most likely areas to be cleared for small-scale agriculture (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2013).

Conservation Actions Underway
The species receives some habitat protection, for example in Puerto Princesa (Mallari et al. 2011) and St Paul's (R. Hutchinson in litt. 2013) Subterranean River National Parks and the Iwahig Penal Colony.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct repeated surveys within the species's range to determine its current distribution and abundance, as well as assess population trends. Monitor rates of habitat loss across the species's range. Conduct ecological studies to improve understanding of its precise habitat requirements, tolerance of secondary habitats and response to fragmentation. Campaign for the protection of remaining tracts of lowland forest on Palawan.

Collar, N. J.; Mallari, N. A. D.; Tabaranza, B. R. J. 1999. Threatened birds of the Philippines: the Haribon Foundation/BirdLife International Red Data Book. Bookmark, Makati City.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D. 2007. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Mallari, N. A. D.; Collar, N. J.; Lee, D. C.; McGowan, P. J. K.; Wilkinson, R.; Marsden, S. J. 2011. Population densities of understorey birds across a habitat gradient in Palawan, Philippines: implications for conservation. Oryx 45(2): 234-242.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Gilroy, J., Khwaja, N. & Taylor, J.

Hutchinson, R.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Malacopteron palawanense. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Melodious babbler (Malacopteron palawanense) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Timaliidae (Babblers and parrotbills)
Species name author Büttikofer, 1895
Population size Unknown mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,500 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species