Jungle Prinia Prinia sylvatica

Anand Krishnan and Steve Madge
Version: 2.0 — Published September 17, 2020


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14–16 cm; 14–21 g. A large brown prinia with very long and graduated tail, and sexual size dimorphism. Upperparts generally entirely rufous brown, with no pattern. Underparts, including throat, breast, and belly are creamy white with pale buff on flanks and undertail coverts. Breeding plumage generally grayer, with distinctive white tail feathers (1).

Similar Species

Distinguished from very similar Plain Prinia (P. inornata) mainly by larger size (especially male), bulkier appearance, broader-based tail, stronger thicker legs, and a longer and stouter bill; also tendency to have grayer face with little or no supercilium, and to have dark mottling on lower malar region (diagnostic, but close view needed). P. inornata best identified by call, especially when the two are not seen together. Jungle Prinia is additionally a more sluggish bird (1, 2); if seen together, this is a helpful pointer in separating them from P. inornata.


The following descriptions pertain to the nominate subspecies.


Similar to adults, but with rufous-brown upperparts and a yellow wash on underparts.

Definitive Basic Plumage

Sexes are similar in plumage, but females are smaller than males. In basic (non-breeding) plumage, it has white lores joining narrow a white eye-ring, sometimes with a slight supercilium (usually none). Ear coverts are dark gray, flecked with white, with flecks reaching the malar area. The crown and the entire upperparts, including upperwing, are rufous brown, becoming slightly brighter on the rump and uppertail coverts. The tail is dark gray brown; the outer feathers with indistinct pale tips. The throat and underparts are creamy white, washed with pale buff on flanks and undertail coverts.

Definitive Alternate Plumage

The Alternate (breeding) Plumage is duller, more grayish olive brown above, and whiter below, with outer three pairs of tail feathers almost wholly white (extent of white varies individually) .


Timing of molt differs between subspecies. Both postnuptial and prenuptial molt are complete, as well as postjuvenal molt. In P. s. gangetica, postnuptial molt occurs October-December. In P. s. valida, birds in complete molt have been collected in January and July (1).

Bare Parts


In summer, nominate adult male has the bill and interior of the mouth black. In juvenile, the gape is yellow. In other stages the gape is pink brown.

Iris and Facial Skin

Nominate has orange to straw-colored iris.

Tarsi and Toes

Pinkish or pale pinkish brown.


All measurements from Ali and Ripley (1).

Linear Measurements

Total length 14-16cm.

Wing Length

P. s. insignis: 59-67 mm (male), 53-61 mm (female).

P. s. sylvatica: 52-65 mm (male), 50-54 mm (female).

P. s. mahendrae: 60-62 mm (male).

P. s. valida: 60-65 mm (male), 55 mm (female).

Bill Length (from skull)

P. s. insignis: 15-17 mm (male), 15 mm (female).

P. s. sylvatica: 14-16 mm (male), 13-14 mm (female).

P. s. valida: 15-17 mm (male), 15 mm (female).

Tarsus Length

P. s. insignis: 23-25 mm (male), 22-25 mm (female).

P. s. sylvatica: 21-24 mm (male), 20-21 mm (female).

P. s. valida: 22-25 mm (male), 23 mm (female).

Tail Length

P. s. insignis: 73-95 mm (male), 71-77 mm (female).

P. s. sylvatica: 65-72 mm (summer male), 67-79 mm (winter male), 57-65 mm (female).

P. s. mahendrae: 77-81 mm (male).

P. s. valida: 59-70 mm (male), 55 mm (female).


P. s. insignis: 10-21 g (mean 16 g).

P. s. sylvatica: 14-18 g (mean 16.3 g).

Recommended Citation

Krishnan, A. and S. Madge (2020). Jungle Prinia (Prinia sylvatica), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.junpri1.02