Indian Grass-babbler Graminicola bengalensis


Justification of Red List Category
The species has a small global population  and is in decline as a result of habitat loss. However, the rate of decline is not certain and the species is not known to undergo extreme fluctuations. Without clear subpopulation estimates, the population structure is difficult to assess; yet it is likely that the population is fragmented, with individuals restricted to several small subpopulations. Given the large amount of uncertainty over this, the species is precautionarily classified as Near Threatened; although if further information becomes available the species may warrant further uplisting.

Population justification
Its main stronghold is Nepal, which has been thought to hold c. 2,000 pairs (Leader et al. 2010). The recent National Red List of Nepal stated that the population size there may be in the range 2,000-5,300 (Inskipp et al. 2016), though it is not stated whether this refers to all individuals or just mature individuals. The population size in Bangladesh is most likely very small, as the species retracted from large parts of its range there (Thompson and Johnson 2003, Collar and Robson 2007). In India, the species is rarely reported, but has been found at several sites (Leader et al. 2010). The total population size therefore is likely to fall within the range of 2,500-9,999 mature individuals, equating to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
Being restricted to undisturbed wet grasslands, the species is under threat from habitat loss, modification and overgrazing. As such the species is currently considered to be undergoing a continuing decline.

Distribution and population

Graminicola bengalensis is known from the Terai of northern India (highly localised but common at a few sites from Uttar Pradesh eastwards to the Brahmaputra lowlands) and southern Nepal (c.2,000 pairs). It also occurs in northern Bangladesh but it appears to have mostly disappeared from most of its former range in this country (Collar and Robson 2007, P. Thompson in litt. 2016). Although still common at several sites throughout its range, it has apparently disappeared from many previous localities; however, the species is easily overlooked when not singing and may be under-recorded in much of its range (Baral et al. 2006).


It occurs in tall (taller than 1 m) lowland wet grassland, reed-swamp and other emergent vegetation in or bordering freshwater swamps or along banks of rivers in lowlands (Baral et al. 2006). In general, the species seems to avoid disturbed or small patches of habitat (A. Choudhury in litt. 2017)


The species is highly susceptible to the loss, modification and fragmentation of its grassland and wetland habitat. Drainage of wetland, degradation of grassland, burning, agricultural development and over-grazing are the most pertinent threats. In Chitwan National Park in Nepal, its habitat is under serious threat by the invasive alien vine Mikania micrantha (C. Inskipp in litt. 2016).  

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Considered Endangered in the national level in Nepal and Bangladesh (Inskipp et al. 2016, P. Thompson in litt. 2016). Occurs in several protected areas in Nepal (Chitwan National Park, Royal Sukilaphanta Wildlife Reserve, Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve) and India (Dudhwa National Park, Kaziranga National Park, D’Ering Memorial Sanctuary, Dibru-Saikhowa Biosphere Reserve).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys throughout its range to determine the current population status. Investigate the effects of different grassland management regimes. Increase the effectiveness of protected areas and protect additional areas of suitable habitat (P. Thompson in litt. 2016).


c.18 cm. A boldly marked grass-babbler; crown with reddish brown and black streaks, white supercilium, streaked black ear-coverts; nape and upperparts streaked black and brownish-white, underparts streaked rufous and black; tail grey-brown with white tips, undertail coverts rufous. Similar spp Smaller than Striated Grassbird (Megalurus palustris), tail shorter, broader and less tapered, bolder markings and unstreaked flanks. Voice Loud song delivered from the top of tall grasses or in flight; strong, down-slured note followed by a series of clipped, rhythmic and warbled notes kleeuu...kleitkuit...kuit; calls include rattling and wheezy notes.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Mahood, S., Khwaja, N., Martin, R., Hermes, C., Westrip, J., Wheatley, H.

Thompson, P., Leader, P., Inskipp, C., Kilburn, M., Choudhury, A., Crosby, M.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Graminicola bengalensis. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/indian-grass-babbler-graminicola-bengalensis on 07/06/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 07/06/2023.