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Slender-billed Babbler Turdoides longirostris
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This elusive species is thought to have a small, fragmented population which is declining as a result of the extensive destruction and degradation of its tall grassland habitats. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.

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

20-21 cm. Medium-sized, slim, brown babbler with slightly down-curved, blackish, slender bill and long tail. Dusky whitish lores and narrow eyebrow, whitish to bluish-white eyes, faintly cross-barred tail. Juvenile more rufescent above than adult, more rufescent-buff below and has pale basal half to lower mandible. Voice Song includes shrill, rather high yi chiwiyu chiwiyu'chiwiyu'chiwiyu'chiwiyu and clear high wiii-wii-jiu-di, wiii-wii-dju-di or wi-yu-ii. Also, four to six note chiu-chiu-chiu-chiu and discordant, high tiu-tiu-tiu, tit-tit and tiu-tiu-tit-tit-tu-tu. Hints Listen for song in wet or riverine grassland.

Distribution and population
Turdoides longirostris has a fragmented distribution in the terai of central Nepal and north and north-east India (BirdLife International 2001). Although described as locally common in the 19th century, recent records come from just three areas, in Nepal (where its declining population is estimated at 1,440-2,160 individuals, based on surveys in 2005 [C. Inskipp and H. Baral in litt. 2012]), at Gorumara NP and Singalila NP in Bengal (M. Prince in litt. 2002, P. Lobo in litt. 2003), and also in Assam. There are unconfirmed historical reports from Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 individuals, based on a detailed analysis of historical and recent records in BirdLife International (2001). The largest remaining population, in Chitwan National Park, is estimated to number 1,000 individuals, but there have been few recent surveys elsewhere in its range. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. The estimate equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Recent information on population trends is lacking, but on-going habitat loss and degradation across the species's range suggest that a rapid population decline is likely to be continuing.

It is a sedentary resident of tall grasslands in the lowlands, where it is usually found near water, and at least historically on grassy plateaux at 900-1,200 m in Meghalaya, India. It is gregarious, but generally shy and difficult to observe, except during the breeding season, March-June, when it is more vocal and conspicuous.

The rapid and extensive loss and modification of tall grasslands and reedswamp throughout its limited range is the main threat to the species. This is occurring as a result of drainage, conversion to agriculture (primarily rice-paddy, sugarcane, mustard and tea plantations), overgrazing by domestic livestock, over harvesting of grass for thatch production, untimely cutting and burning of grass, inappropriate grassland management within protected areas and heavy flooding in the Brahmaputra valley, as a result of run-off from an increasingly denuded catchment. It is also threatened by the growth of invasive alien plant species such as Mikania micrantha, which can overrun grasslands and other habitats and render areas unsuitable (C. Inskipp and H. Baral in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Underway
It is known to occur in two protected areas, Chitwan National Park, Nepal and Kaziranga National Park, India, both of which are thought to support significant populations.Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys in remaining suitable habitat throughout its range to establish its current distribution and population status. Extend, upgrade and link existing protected areas, and establish new ones, in order to adequately conserve remaining tracts of grassland. Control livestock-grazing in protected areas to reduce rates of tall grassland loss and degradation. Promote widespread conservation awareness initiatives focusing on grassland regeneration and sustainable management of grassland to maximise both thatch productivity for local people and available habitat for threatened grassland birds.

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

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., Taylor, J.

Baral, H., Inskipp, C., Lobo, P., Prince, M.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Turdoides longirostris. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

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 - Slender-billed babbler (Turdoides longirostris) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Timaliidae (Babblers and parrotbills)
Species name author (Moore, 1854)
Population size 1500-7000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 20,500 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species