It is found in peninsular India in a range of forest habitats. They are most often detected by their distinctive call which is an antiphonal duet produced by pairs within small groups. They are often hard to see as they forage through dense vegetation. The long curve yellow, scimitar-shaped bills give them their name.
The most distinctive feature of this 22 cm long bird is the long down-curved yellow bill which is blackish at the base of the upper mandible. It has a striking head pattern, with a long white supercilum above a broad black band through the eye. The white throat and breast contrast with the dark greyish brown on the upperside and dark grey to black on most of the underside. The tail is broad, long and graduated. They have short, round wings and being weak fliers are rarely seen flying in the open.
Indian scimitar-babblers have long down-curved yellow bills, used to work through the leaf litter in search of their food which is mainly insects and berries. They can be difficult to observe in the dense vegetation they prefer, but like many other babblers, these are noisy birds, and the characteristic bubbling calls are often the best indication that these birds are present. The call itself consists of a loud fluty oop-pu-pu-pu followed immediately by a krukru. The second note is produced by the female and the duet is accurately synchronized.