A small songbird endemic to Southeast Asia, the sooty-capped babbler (Malacopteron affine) has a charming song consisting of eight whistling notes on a scale that rises and falls (2)(3)(4).
The plumage of the sooty-capped babbler is largely brownish, with greyish upperparts and, as its common name suggests, a dark, slate-coloured crown (2)(4). The juvenile sooty-capped babbler can be distinguished from the adult by its paler crown (5).
Little is known about the biology of this elusive bird. While foraging, the sooty-capped babbler flits from branch to branch, resting briefly on creepers and twigs as it plucks invertebrates from the foliage (2)(4).
The nest of the sooty-capped babbler is a small cup situated above the ground, in a densely-leaved tree (4). Little other information is available on the breeding behaviour of this species.
Deforestation is the greatest threat to the sooty-capped babbler (3). Illegal logging and land conversion have rapidly destroyed vast areas of forest within this species’ range, while forest fires have also damaged its habitat, particularly in 1997 and 1998 (3).
Fortunately, the sooty-capped babbler’s ability to survive in secondary forest and selectively logged forest provides some hope for the species, and means that it is not at immediate risk of extinction (3).
Currently, no specific conservation measures are known to be in place for the sooty-capped babbler. However, many conservation organisations are working in the region to preserve the remaining forest and safeguard its biodiversity (6)(7).
Recommended conservation measures for the sooty-capped babbler include population surveys, further studies into its habitat requirements, and measures to reduce the impacts of forest fires. The area of suitable protected habitat also needs to be increased, and the management of existing protected areas improved (3).
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