Spiny Babbler Turdoides nipalensis Scientific name definitions

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



Spiny Babbler inhabits dense scrub and secondary growth on hillsides, favoring the thicker areas. Its habitat is the same throughout the year, during both the breeding and nonbreeding season (16, 13).

Thakuri (31) analyzed the species' habitat preferences using habitat surveys from the Annapurna Conservation Area in the Lwang-Ghalel village area, Kaski district between 1,300 m and 1,550 m (see Demography and Populations). Spiny Babbler was found to prefer scrub habitats, especially near a water source and near agricultural land. It was also shown to prefer habitats with a good growth of fern species. To a lesser extent, it utilized habitats with extensive Ageratina adenophora, even though this is a non-native invasive species. Spiny Babbler also occurred in organic coffee plantations in the Lwang-Ghalel, but at significantly lower densities than in other scrub habitats (31, see also Demography and Populations). Birds using Ageratina adenophora and coffee plantations may have colonized from nearby native habitats.

In the Kathmandu valley, it is found in all different types of scrub, but is most common away from cultivation where the scrub is dense; scrub is often so thick that it is difficult for humans to walk through. Generally, the bushes are about 1.5 m high. In this area, the scrub habitat largely consists of Gaultheria, Symplocos, Myrsine, Osbeckia, Camellia, Phyllanthus etc. Trees such as Schima wallichii, Castanopsis indica, and Quercus lamellosa are common, but as they are constantly cut for firewood and grazed by goats and buffaloes, they seldom attain more than bush height; a few Chir Pines (Pinus roxburghii) are sometimes allowed to grow into trees (3).

Spiny Babbler has also been recorded in Artemisia growing on fallow ground (5 ). At Uperdang Ghadi, in the Gadhi-Siraichul Important Bird Area, Chitwan district, the species frequents bushes and tall herbaceous vegetation at the edges of terraced fields (CI, personal observation). At Nalang, Dhading district, birds were fairly common on hillsides with dense dwarf bushes up to 3 m tall and scattered trees of Schima wallichii and Castanopsis sp. (HSB, personal observation); small numbers were also found inhabiting a coffee plantation which was comprised of low shrubs of coffee interspersed with isolated shade trees (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