This genus contains the well-known Babblers called " The Seven Sisters " over so great a part of India. Unfortunately we cannot employ either Crateropus or Malacocercus as a name for the genus, and it must now be known as Turdoides.
It differs from the True Laughing-Thrushes of the preceding genera in having the covering membrane of the nostrils more or less covered by plumes, though they have no overhanging hairs. The rictal bristles are short and stout and the feathers of the forehead short, firm and close. The tail is about the same in length as the wing and well graduated, the outermost pair being about two-thirds the length of the central feathers. The wing is short and rounded, the third or fourth primary being the longest.
There are two species which call for remark in this genus, Turdoides rufescens and Turdoides cinereifrons. The former, the Ceylon Babbler, is supposed to differ in having the feathers of the forehead bare at the tips and spinous ; it has accordingly been generically separated with Argya subrufa as Layardia. The difference seems to me very minute, sometimes hardly visible, and does not constitute sufficient cause for removal to another genus. The other characteristic, referred to by Harington, is the more slender, wholly black bill, but the difference between this and the shorter yellow bill of others is bridged over by the intermediate yellow and black bill of Argya subrufa.
The second bird, the Ashy-headed Babbler, differs only from typical Turdoides in having a longer bill, coloured black instead of pale yellow or white as1 in the other species. There does not appear to be any other difference, and though when first seen the bird appears to be nearer Garrulax or Dryonastes than Turdoides, I can see no sufficient reason for instituting a new genus for it. Its habits and nidification may assist when these are known.
Key to Species and Subspecies.
A. Throat ashy, mottled with pale brown;
a. Upper plumage paler with very in-
distinct shaft-streaks T. terricolor terricolor, p. 191.
b. Upper plumage darker and browner
with distinct shaft-streaks T. b. malabaricus, p. 192.
c. Paler and more grey everywhere,
with shaft-streaks obsolete T. t. sindianus, p. 193,
B. Throat and breast dark brown or
black with ashy margins.
d. Tail ashy and brown ; primaries edged paler.
a1 Ear-coverts blackish and darker
than the rest of the head T. griseus griseus, p. 193.
b1. Ear-coverts same as the rest of
the head T. g. striates, p. 194.
e. Tail rufous; primaries without pale edges.
c1 Throat and breast mottled with
brown , T. somervillei, p. 194.
C. Throat and breast uniformly rufous.. T. rufescens, p. 195.
D. Throat pale rufous, breast dark rufous. T. cinereifrons, p. 196.
* Babax koslowi, an all rufous bird with obsolete streaks only, is found on the Mekong watershed and is sure to enter parts of N. Burma.