Frugivory by Abbott’s Babbler Malacocincla abbotti olivacea

on 27th April 2023

The Abbott’s Babbler (Malacocincla abbotti olivacea) is said to take insects and invertebrates. There is no mention of fruit (frugivory) in their diet. Wells (2007) notes one observation that suggests a fruit item may have been brought to nestlings. 

The Abbott’s Babbler is a reasonably common babbler in Ipoh City, existing in many green-lung pockets. On 27th April 2023, at one such location in Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia, I observed an adult pair foraging. 

They are classically described as foraging among leaf litter and, close to, or on the ground.

As I have observed and documented, on a number of times, the birds I see often forage fairly high up. Today the pair was seen foraging from the ground up to 7 meters in the trees. As usual they check under both living leaves as well as some dead leaf litter; for insect prey.

Image 1
Image 2

I saw one adult bird take a fruit from a creeper (no identity of the plant); see Images 1 and 2. The bird was not looking for any insects on the fruit but intentionally harvested the fruit to eat. 

I am not able to find other references in the literature for fruit feeding. An image search, including a review of the Macaulay Library, showed only insects and mealworms (at staged feeding sites). 

I am no longer surprised to see a wide range of birds, including babblers, consume fruit (frugivory) in their diet. I have seen other babbler species taking fruit. Many birds that are not ‘expected’ to do so, often have not as yet been observed doing so. 

Although not common, fruit is possibly part of the diet of the Abbott’s Babbler.



Wells, D.R. (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 2 (Passerines). Christopher Helm, London.

Amar-Singh HSS (2020). Abbott’s Babbler. Bird Ecology Study Group.


Note to readers: If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

Amar-Singh HSS

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS, Cert Theology (Aust, Hons), MBBS (Mal), MRCP (UK), FRCP (Glasg), MSc Community Paediatrics (Ldn, dist), is a Consultant Paediatrician. He served the Malaysian civil service for more than 35 years, led regional Paediatric and Research departments, is an active child advocate and the recipient of a number of international awards. He has been a bird watcher for around 50 years, published two bird books, has a number of international bird publications, contributed to more than 20 international bird books/guides, and contributes to online bird image and audio databases. He is an active contributor to the Bird Ecology Study Group with a large number of detailed posts and write-ups on bird ecology. He is a life member of the Malaysian Nature Society, a member of the BCC-MNS Records Committee, a member of the Oriental Bird Club and supports eBird. He is interested in spending time getting to know bird behaviour and considers himself a bird-friend. Amar is based at Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.

Other posts by Amar-Singh HSS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Overall visits (since 2005)

Live visitors
Visitors Today

Clustrmaps (since 2016)