Hwamei

Garrulax canorus

SUBFAMILY

Timaliinae

TAXONOMY

Turdus canorus Linnaeus, 1758, Amoy. Three subspecies. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Melodious jay thrush, spectacled thrush, Chinese thrush; French: Garrulaxe hoamy; German: Augenbrauen-häherling.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

9 in (22 cm). Thrush-shaped. Uniformly brown with fine darker streaking. Distinctive white eye ring, with long rearwards extension lending an "Egyptian" look. Bill pale. Taiwanese subspecies more heavily streaked with much reduced eye ring.

DISTRIBUTION

Central and southeast China, Taiwan, Hainan, and northern Indochina. Feral populations established on the Hawaiian Islands of Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Molokai, and Kaua'i.

HABITAT

Scrub, secondary forest, and nearby farmland.

BEHAVIOR

A notably shy bird, yet famous for male's robust song. Stays near the ground, a weak flyer. Usually in pairs or small groups.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Forages in leaf litter for insects, fruit, seeds, and insects.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Monogamous. Large bowl or oval-shaped nest situated in thickets, made of leaves, pine needles, grasses, fine twigs, vines, and other plant material. May or may not be lined. Three to five bluish eggs, sometimes spotted. Female alone incubates for 15 days. Chicks fledge after 13 days of being fed by both parents. Two breeds raised between February and September.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened, though Taiwanese G. canorus taewanus may be threatened due to introduction of mainland nominate subspecies. As disturbed and agricultural habitat is favored, still quite common on Chinese mainland, despite massive exploitation for the cage-bird trade. Added to Appendix II of CITES in 2001.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Most revered songbird in China. Apparently inflicts limited damage to peanut and pea crops in China, but negative presence offset by insect control. ♦

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