Birds of the World -2 The Fulvettas of the genus Alcippe.

Courtesy of Alnus.  Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0 License.  Gould's Fulvetta.


In this series we review the birds of the world. here in part two we look at the Fulvettas of the genus Alcippe. This genus belongs to the family Pellarneidae. The genus originally contained most of the Fulvettas but is currently being reviewed and many of the species are now placed in other genera such as the genus Fulvetta. We commence our review with the species Alcippe cinerea.

Yellow-throated Fulvetta. Alcippe cinerea

This is a species whose common name is somewhat misleading,because it is not a close relative of the 'typical' Fulvetta, which are now placed in the genus Fulvetta and are actually Sylviidae. They are birds that are encountered in Bhutan {now thought to be extinct in Bangladesh}, China, India,Laos, Myanmar, Nepal and Vietnam. They occur in sub-tropical and tropical moist mountainous forests.

It is also known by the alternative common names of Yellow throated Tit Babbler, Dusky green fulvetta, and Dusky green tit babbler. Some authorities place this species in the genus Schoeniparus others in the genus Buedominla. It is a very small species about four and a half inches long {10-11 cm }.

They have a bright yellow throat and breast. They have a long,black,lateral crown stripe and black scales on the coronal stripe.The rest of the plumage is a greyish-olive colouring. They occur in broad-leaved evergreen forests,also in open areas and often near tracks and stream sides.  They feed on invertebrates foraging in dense under growth or in the under story. Outside the breeding season they may occur in small groups sometimes associating with other species.

The breeding season for this bird commences  from April until July. The nest is dome shaped or semi-dome shaped,but always cup shaped. It is constructed using grass, fern fronds and or Bamboo leaves. It is placed on the ground or low in a bush close to the ground, in a stand of bamboo or among boulders. There are no current conservation concerns.


Yellow throated fulvetta.   Courtesy of Dibyendu Ash. CC BY-SA 3.0 License.    Taken in India.

Rufpous winged fulvetta. Alcippe castaneceps.

The Rufous winged fulvetta is sometimes found under the scientific name of Schoeniparus castaneceps., and is also known by the alternative common names such as Rufous winged Tit Babbler, Chestnut headed fulvetta and Chestnut headed Tit Babbler.

It is a species that is encountered from Nepal east over to Bhutan, to north east India, Burma and adjacent southern China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and the Malay Peninsular. It is common in most of its range.

It has an overall olive-brown plumage broken by various shades of white,it is a small species four to five and a quarter inches long { 10-13 cm }. it has a chestnut coloured crown with paler streaking, the eye stripe is white, which also surrounds the eye with black markings towards the back of he face. The wings are a rufous colour from which it takes its common name. However, the coverts have a black colouring. The flanks and breast sides and the upper parts are an olive-brown colour,the tail is dark brown.The sexes are similar.

These birds occur in broad-leaved evergreen forests,forest edge,and bamboo stands where they feed on insects,and studies have revealed they will also feed on tree sap.  They tend to forage on moss-covered trunks in the manner of the nuthatch. They form quite large flocks of up to forty birds ,often mixed with other species.

BREEDING.  Depending on the country they inhabit the breeding season may commence as early as January. The bird will construct a dome-shaped nest made principally of moss and dry bamboo or other leaves. It is situated one to three meters above the ground,among creepers or moss that adorns the tree trunks,or alternatively a moss-covered bank may be chosen.  The female will deposit three to four eggs. It is a resident species.

There are five sub-species that most authorities except. There are no current conservation concerns.  The Black-Crowned Fulvetta, was until recently considered to be a sub-species also, but it is now given the species name of Alcippe kiossi.

Rufous winged fulvetta.  Courtesy of Francesco Veronesi {from Italy } CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic License.  Taken in Bhutan.

Grey-cheeked fulvetta. Alcippe morrisonia.

The Grey Cheeked Fulvetta, is sometimes referred to as Morrison's fulvetta, The common fulvetta, Red -eyed fulvetta and the Grey-eyed nun babbler. It is a small species, five to five and a half inches long,and is endemic to Taiwan. 

The head is grey, the iris red, surrounded by a whitish ring. The bill is short and grey-black. They have a long lateral crown stripe. The upper parts are brown the under parts a buffish white. the legs and feet are of a pinkish colour.

They are birds that inhabit broad-leaved,evergreen forest,bamboo and scrub, at an elevation of between 600 meters and 3,000 meters. Here they feed on insects,seeds and berries. They are resident birds and out of the breeding season tend to roam in noisy flocks or groups, sometimes mixed with other species.

BREEDING.  The breeding season commences in April through until August. The nest tends to compact and cup-shaped, composed of grass and moss,strengthened with spiders webs.It is often located   in a small bush up to two meters above the ground, and often lower. The female will deposit  three to four eggs and up to three broods may be reared in a season.

David's fulvetta,endemic to China and north Vietnam, was once considered to be with this species,but now is given the scientific name of Alcippe davidi.  Likewise, Yunnan fullvetta Alcipppe fratercula a species endemic to southern China,southeast Myanmar and northern Indochina. As was Huet's fulvetta, endemic to  southeast China.

Grey-cheeked fulvetta.  Courtesy of Robert tdc CC BY-SA 2.0 License. Originally appeared on Flickr

Mountain Fulvetta,Alcippe peracensis

The Mountain fulvetta Alcippe peracensis, is a medium sized Fulvetta about five and a half to six and a half inches { 14- 16.5 cm } long. It is simialr in appearance to the Grey cheeked fulvetta and nepal fulvetta, however, the ranges of these species do not overlap. This species occurs in Vietnam,Laos, East Cambodia and in the highlands of the Malay Peninsular.

The crown and mantle are grey with a prominent blackish line,starting from just above the bill reaching back across the crown to the nape. The rest of the upper parts are brown with black edges on the wing feathers,below they are whitish. There are two sub-species recognized by most authorities, Alcippe peracensis annamensis that occurs in Laos and Vietnam, and Alcippe peracensis peracensis that occurs in the highlands of the Malay peninsular..

They inhabit the broad-leaved,evergreen forests and semi-evergreen forests of their range,where they feed upon insects. Most often encountered in pairs or in small groups and they will mix with other species.

BREEDING.- Depending on the location they are in the breeding season commences at different times. The female will make a small cup-shaped nest composed of dead leaves and moss,placed either in a bush, a sapling or even a fern. She will deposit two eggs.

They are resident birds and there are no current conservation concerns. 

A bird considered to be conspecific with the Mountain fulvetta is the Black browed fulvetta, but it is now given the specific name of Alcippe grotei. This species generally occurs below four hundred meters and the former species above nine hundred meters. It is somewhat similar to the Grey cheeked fulvetta {above}. 

Mountain fulvetta.  Courtesy of NatureAtYourBackyard {Flickr}  CC BY2.0 generic License.

Brown Cheeked Fulvetta.  Alcippe poioicephala

The Brown-cheeked fulvetta,  was formerly referred to by common name of Quaker babbler. it is a species that has been retained in  the genus Alcippe after the true fulvettas and some others were removed. It is closely related to the previously mentioned brown fulvetta and the Black-browed fulvetta. It is a resident breeding bird in India and southeast Asia,where it may be encountered inhabiting the undergrowth in moist forests and jungle-scrubland.

It measures about six inches long {15 cm }, it is brownish-black above buff below with a lack of patterning on the body or wings. The crown is grey, the cheeks dark. The bill is short and dark. They have short rounded wings the flight is weak.

BREEDING- This species builds its nest in a tree concealed by dense masses of foliage. The nest can be found from January until June,but peaking between January and February. The nest itself is cup=-shaped built with green moss,rootlets,lichen,leaves and grass, lined with rootlets. It is normally situated in a fork or even suspended from the twigs, not far from the ground. The female will deposit two to three eggs which are incubated for a period of ten to twelve days. There are no current conservation concerns.

Brown-cheeked fulvetta-sub-species davisonia.  Courtesy of JJ Harrison {jjharrison89@facebook.com} CC BY-SA 3.0 License.  Taken in Thailand.

Other species at a glance.

Other species in the genus Alcippe are the Rufous throated fulvetta, Alcippe futogularis. which occurs on the Indian sub-continent and in southeast Asia.

Rusty-capped fulvetta, Alcippe dubia, which is found in Bhutan,China, India, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. 

Dusky fulvetta, Alcippe brunnea, found in China and Taiwan.

Nepal fulvetta, Alcippe nipalensis, found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Taiwan. 

Javan fulvetta Alcippe pyrrhoptera, is endemic to Indonesia. 

Species considered to be Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.  {IUCN}.

The Golden fronted fulvetta , Alcippe variegaticeps, a species endemic to China, is classed as being Vulnerable by the IUCN, due to Habitat Loss.

Brown fuvetta, Alcippe brunneicauda, is a species of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. It is classed by the IUCN as being Near Threatened, again, due to habitat loss. 

Browned cheeked fulvetta.  Courtesy of maxipoika  standard YouTube license.


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