Spiny Babbler Turdoides nipalensis Scientific name definitions

Carol Inskipp and Hem S. Baral
Version: 2.0 — Published May 7, 2022



Walking, Running, Hopping, Climbing, etc.

Spiny Babbler is mainly terrestrial. It mostly searches for food by hopping on the ground or by jumping around a tangle of low vegetation and branches (CI, personal observation).


It flits from bush to bush as its short, rounded wings do not allow it to sustain a long flight easily. Sometimes birds may fly a considerable distance by skimming the bushes in an awkward, top-heavy manner (3).


No information.

Agonistic Behavior

No information.

Sexual Behavior

Mating System and Operational Sex Ratio

No information.

Courtship, Copulation, and Pair Bond

The pair’s breeding vocalization behavior is described under Vocalizations.

Before copulation, the male may occasionally pick up a leaf and offer it to the female, although the female has not been observed to take it. While moving through the bushes, the female frequently picks up dead pine needles and leaves and carries them for a short distance before dropping them; the male occasionally does the same (3).

Females have been observed engaging in courtship feeding by begging for food like a young bird while drooping their wings and tails (3).

Social and Interspecific Behavior

Degree of Sociality

Spiny Babbler occurs in pairs during the breeding season and in small groups of 3–10 birds during the winter (8).

Nonpredatory Interspecific Interactions

Spiny Babbler is by far the most common babbler in scrub habitat, and none of the closely related babblers (other Turdoides sp.) are found in this habitat or in the same altitudinal range (34, 3). The only other babbler species that co-occurs with Spiny Babbler is Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler (Erythrogenys erythrogenys), with which it sometimes associates, though this species is now classified in a different family, Timaliidae (31). The presence of this species is an indication of the possible occurrence of the Spiny Babbler in an area.


Little is known about the predation of the Spiny Babbler. Snakes, martens, mongoose, and weasels, as well as other small carnivores present in the same habitat as the species, may predate these birds and their eggs (HSB, CI, personal observation).

Recommended Citation

Inskipp, C. and H. S. Baral (2022). Spiny Babbler (Turdoides nipalensis), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.spibab1.02