Giant Babax Pterorhinus waddelli


Justification of Red List Category
This species is now scarce within its restricted range, and is thought to be in moderately rapid decline owing to habitat loss and degradation. It is therefore currently listed as Near Threatened.

Population justification
The current global population is estimated to be 120,000 individuals (Lu 2004, del Hoyo et al. 2007).

Trend justification
Deforestation and habitat degradation are occurring within this species's altitudinal range, and a moderately rapid decline is suspected to be occurring in response. However it has recently been suggested that the species is not declining within its range (X. Lu in litt. 2016), further information is needed to confirm that the population is now stable. The trend is precautionarily treated as declining.

Distribution and population

This species occurs in southern Tibet, China, and extreme north-eastern Sikkim, India. It is generally scarce across this range, although it may be locally common in suitable habitats.


This species inhabits dense deciduous scrub above the treeline, particularly around stands of willow (Salix spp.), sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) and prickly oak (Quercus spp.), and the edges of coniferous and mixed forests. The species appears to depend on natural vegetation; using tall bushes and shrubs for both perching and nesting (Lu 2004). Records are from 2,700-4,600 m.


This species is presumably declining because of deforestation, although extensive pine and mixed coniferous forests with prickly oak and rhododendron still remain to the east of Lhasa. The species's preferred perching and nesting sites in tall bushes and shrubs in scrubland may be targeted for removal as fuelwood thus scrub areas near villages may be of poor quality for the species (Lu 2004). The species has completely disappeared in scrub areas around some villages and regeneration of vegetation is very slow under the extreme alpine climate (Lu 2004). Loss of suitable tall vegetation may also increase interspecific competition as species with similar nest site requirements, including Streptopelia orientalis, Lanius tephronotus and Garrulax henrici (Lu 2004).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation actions are known for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct repeated surveys within the range to determine current distribution and abundance, as well as assess population trends and rates of habitat loss. Conduct ecological studies to improve understanding of its precise habitat requirements, particularly its tolerance of fragmentation and human degradation. Protect areas of suitable habitat.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Gilroy, J., Taylor, J., Ashpole, J

Lu, X.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Pterorhinus waddelli. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/03/2023.