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Ashy Tailorbird
Orthotomus ruficeps

Laki Padi/Perenjak Kelabu (Malay)

Ashy Tailorbirds eat insects. They are very common in mangroves, energetically foraging in the lower understorey; moving and calling constantly.

Breeding: Ashy Tailorbirds "sew" their nests out of the large green living leaves. For more about tailorbirds in general and how they "sew" their nests out of leaves.

Status and threats: Tailorbirds are not at risk in Singapore as they have adapted well to human interference. Although Ashy Tailorbirds are mostly found in mangroves, they also live in adjacent growths such as swampy forest and coastal scrub. In offshore islands, they are found throughout the island and not just at the shores.
Mangrove and wetland wildlife at
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
Main features: Small (12cm); entire body is a dark ashy-grey, although may be whitish at the abdomen; completely rufous face (including crown) and throat.

Male: As above.
ashy tailorbird
Photo from
Morten Strange
Female: Paler and duller than the male; pale chest and white belly.

Juvenile: Paler with whitish throat.

Call: Described as a shrill disyllabic tree-chip; ti-wee ti-wee or whee-chip. Also pree-pree-pree.

In flight: Darting low flight in the understorey thickets.

Similar birds:
Common Tailorbird (O. sutorius): The Ashy has a red face while the Common only has a red crown; the Ashy is grey elsewhere while the Common is olive on the upperparts and pale below; the Common has a long tail which the Ashy lacks. Both of them have red thighs.

Status in Singapore: Common resident throughout the island and North and South offshore islands.

World distribution: Indochina, down through peninsular Malaysia to the Greater Sundas and Palawan.

Classification: Family Sylviidae (which includes Warblers and Babblers). World 552 species, Singapore 19 species.
REFERENCES
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Nature's Niche
  • Morten Strange, "A Photographic Guide to Birds of Malaysia and Singapore: including Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Borneo", Periplus, 2000 (p. 315: description, voice, habits, distribution, status, photo).
  • Morten Strange, "Tropical Birds of Malaysia and Singapore", Periplus Editions, 2000 (p. 55: habits, habitat, photo).
  • Lim Kim Seng and Dana Gardner, "Birds: An Illustrated Field Guide to the Birds of Singapore", Sun Tree Publishing Ltd., 1997 (p. 112: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, diagram, number of species).
  • G W H Davison and Chew Yen Fook, "A Photographic Guide to Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore", New Holland Publishers Ltd., 1995 (p. 110: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, photo).
  • Morten Strange and Allen Jeyarajasingam, "Birds: A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore", Sun Tree Publishing, 1993 (p. 137: description, distribution, habits, habitat, photo).
  • Christopher Hails, "Birds of Singapore" illustrated by Frank Jarvis, Times Editions, 1987 reprinted 1995 (p. 134: habits, description, status in Singapore, and lovely drawings of the birds).
  • Lim Kim Seng, "Vanishing Birds of Singapore", Nature Society (Singapore), 1992 (p. 15: status in Singapore).
  • Lim Kim Seng, "Pocket Checklist of the Birds of the Republic of Singapore", Nature Society (Singapore), 1999 (Abundance, status, Chinese and Malay names).
  • M W F Tweedie, "Common Birds of the Malay Peninsula", Longman,1970 (p. 50: brief description).
  • Sir John A S Bucknill and E N Chasen, " Birds of Singapore and South-East Asia", Tynron Press, 1927, edition 1990 (p. 195-196: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, field notes on habits, drawings).
 
By Ria Tan, 2001