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Black-breasted Parrotbill - BirdForum Opus

Photo by James Eaton
Dibru Saikhowa National Park, Assam, India, April 2008

Alternative name: Gould's Parrotbill

Paradoxornis flavirostris


19.5 - 21cm. A distinctive, bizarre-looking parrotbill:

  • Dusky buff-brown plumage with deep rufous-buff underparts
  • Very deep yellow bill
  • White face with large black ear-patch
  • Black throat-patch and collar on upper breast, more or less continous with ear-patch

Sexes similar. Juveniles are richer rufous-brown above and have a duskier bill.

Similar species

Similar to Spot-breasted Parrotbill but note darker face and darker underparts. The habitat is also completely different. 19 cm. Brown all over, extensive black area on upper breast, rufous-buff remainder of underparts, black patches on the head-sides and throat, thick bill.


Very locally in northeast India and Bangladesh. Recent records all from eastern West Bengal and central and east Assam. No definite records from Nepal.
Local and rare restricted-range species suffering from extensive habitat loss. Classified as vulnerable. Best areas for this species are probably Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and Kaziranga National Park.
Resident species.


This is a monotypic species[1].
Has been treated conspecific with Spot-breasted Parrotbill.


Found in dense reeds, elephant grass and mixed grasses, usually along river banks. Formerly found up to 900m. Published elevational record by Meinertzhagen (2400m) fraud.


A fairly shy species. Usually seen in small groups of 7 - 8 birds, sometimes more. Often low in reeds, sometimes ascending to tops of reed or grass stems.


Feeds on small invertebrates and seeds.


Breeding season from March to July. The nest is a neat, compact cup made of fine strips and shreds of bark or coarse grasses and bamboo leaves. It's fixed to three or four reed stems about 1 - 3m above the ground. Lays 2 - 4 eggs.


The voice is a gruff howh, jeehw or jahw; the song a rhythmic series, aw jahw jahw jahw and uhwi uhwi uhwi uhwi. Alternatively, a higher-pitched wi chi'chi'chi'chi'chi, wi yi'yi'yi'yi'yi, wi'uwi-uwi-uwi wi chu-chu-chu is given


  1. Clements, JF. 2008. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2008. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019.
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2007. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553422
  3. Rasmussen, PC and JC Anderton. 2005. Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334672

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