Black-browed Babbler Malacocincla perspicillata


Justification of Red List Category
This enigmatic babbler, known only from a type-specimen of uncertain provenance, is classified as Data Deficient. Although it has probably declined owing to the recent lowland deforestation in Kalimantan, it is impossible to accurately assess its range or population size. Given the inconspicuous nature of the species and the dearth of fieldwork targeted at rediscovering it, hopes remain high that it might be refound.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but the species is described as possibly extinct and known only from a single specimen (del Hoyo et al. 2007).

Trend justification
Numbers are suspected to have declined, in line with forest loss. The likely rate of decline, however, has not been estimated.

Distribution and population

Malacocincla perspicillata is known by a single specimen of uncertain provenance, but reputedly from South Kalimantan, Indonesia. The collecting locality is not known, but most likely to be around Martapura (or, slightly less likely, Banjarmasin), dating from between 1843 and 1848. Nothing is known about its population, except that numbers are likely to have decreased in line with habitat loss in recent decades.


The type-specimen appears to have been taken in lowland forest, and the relatively short tarsus suggests that it might be rather more arboreal than its congeners. Nothing further is known.


The vague type-locality lies within an area of agricultural development and heavy logging, and the original natural habitat may have now disappeared entirely. Habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, as a result of large-scale commercial logging, even within protected areas, and widespread clearance for plantations of rubber and oil-palm are the likely main threats, assuming it is a forest bird. The full impact of the major fires of 1997-1998 has still to be assessed, but drought fires appear to be increasing in frequency and severity. Together with on-going logging, they are likely to lead to the near complete removal of dryland lowland forest in Kalimantan in the next few years.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
None are known. Perhaps surprisingly there have been no recent searches for the species, presumably owing, at least in part, to the long period of uncertainty over its taxonomic status. There are two nature reserves in South Kalimantan that are situated near to the (presumed) area of the type-locality, Pleihari Tanah Laut and Pleihari Martapura.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct extensive surveys for the species, ranging out from the probable area of the type-locality (including Pleihari Tanah Laut and Pleihari Martapura Nature Reserves), to establish its range, distribution, population status and level of threat, and assess its habitat requirements. Identify its conservation needs and thereby devise and implement appropriate protective measures, including the establishment and management of protected areas.


16 cm. Drab, forest-dwelling babbler. Grey head with black supercilia joining above bill. Brown upperparts, wings and tail, becoming warmer on rump and undertail. Rest of underparts greyish-white, white throat. Stout, pale pinkish legs. Similar spp. Short-tailed Babbler M. malaccensis is smaller with shorter tail, Abbot's Babbler M. abbotti is also smaller and lacks black brow. Voice Undocumented.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Davidson, P., Mahood, S., Pilgrim, J., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Tobias, J.

Collar, N. & Crosby, M.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Malacocincla perspicillata. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 03/02/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 03/02/2023.