Indian Scimitar Babbler - Pomatorhinus horsfieldii

Indian Scimitar Babbler – Pomatorhinus horsfieldii

Indian Scimitar Babbler is a bird from the Timaliidae family found in many parts of India, especially forests. Its name came from the peculiar shape of its bills. ‘Scimitar’ is actually a type of sword with curved shape used in the Middle East. Likewise, the bills of this babbler are also curved, downwards.

Indian Scimitar Babbler - Pomatorhinus horsfieldii

Photo 1: Exif – f/5.6, ISO 400, 1/400s, 500mm, +1.3 step, Nikon D7100, Nikkor 200-500mm f5.6E. Date – Apr 25, 2016. Location – Munnar, Kerala.

Indian Scimitar Babblers - Pomatorhinus horsfieldii

Photo 2

Indian Scimitar Babbler from Munnar, Kerala

Photo 3: Exif, date, location – same as photo 1.

Both these photos are from Munnar on the same day at the same time one after the other. It was morning time and the sun shining brightly. Since the bird was close and the background distant, I could get a smooth bokeh. I only needed to crop the photos slightly. An exposure compensation of +1.3 step was used along with matrix metering to compensate the bright background so that the birds are well exposed (photos 1 and 2).

In the second photo, the distance to the birds was just enough to include both the birds inside the frame. Set the focal length at 500mm which is the longest focal length available.

In the third photo, the bird was under the shade. So the photo appeared underexposed even with an exposure compensation of +1.3. It required a fair amount of shadow recovery to make it look like the one above.

More about Indian Scimitar Babbler –¬†Pomatorhinus horsfieldii

The bird makes a distinct and loud call which is audible from a distance. These birds usually spend most of the time under the bushes. But they also occasionally come out to the open areas, mainly during the morning under bright sunlight. These birds are so common in places like Munnar where the chances to see them outside are high. Like the Kerala Laughingthrush, these birds are also found in groups or pairs.


The long and curved Scimitar-like bills are yellow. There is a long white supercilium. The eyes have a reddish color. Throat, chest, and belly region are white whereas the wings, tail and upper side are brown. The color turns dark towards the head.


Size is about 22cm.

Distribution & Habitat

These are resident birds. The distribution is mainly in the hilly and forest regions of the Indian peninsula.