Whitecrested laughing thrush

Garrulax leucolophus

SUBFAMILY

Timaliinae

TAXONOMY

Corvus leucolophus Hardwicke, 1815, Uttar Pradesh. Five subspecies. DNA hybridization study suggests Garrulax and Lioci-chla compose a separate subfamily (Garrulacinae) from the other babblers, which belong in another subfamily, together with some warblers (Sylviinae).

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: White-crested jay thrush; French: Garrulaxe a huppe blanche; German: Weisshaubenhaherling.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

12 in (30 cm). Instantly recognizable dark-bodied, white-headed bird with bushy crest and black mask and beak. Sexes monomorphic. Subspecific variation fairly pronounced: Himalayan nominate subspecies has brown chest and underparts. These areas are white in southeastern Yunnan and Indo-Chinese

G. l. diardi, which also has a much grayer nape. G. l. patkaicus of Assam, northern Myanmar, and western Yunnan, has brown underparts, but a pure white nape. Sumatran G. l. bicolor has underparts, back, and tail blackish brown, a very different shade from that of other subspecies.

DISTRIBUTION

The length of the Himalayas, with some gaps, Assam, Myanmar, southern China, Indochina, and an isolated subspecies in Sumatra.

HABITAT

Evergreen forests, especially secondary, where heavy undergrowth and bamboo stands abound.

BEHAVIOR

Frequents lower storeys of forest, roaming in flocks of varying sizes (up to 40), often with other bird species. Distinctive ringing, antiphonal vocalizations are frequent.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Groups continuously forage through plants and leaf litter for insects, lizards, fruit, nectar, and seeds.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Species observed in flocks during the breeding season. From captive observations, however, it may prove that only one pair actually breeds. Clutch size is usually three to five. Eggs are white. The wide, shallow nest is usually only about 6 ft (1.8 m) above ground. Bamboo leaves are preferred material for nest. In China, two broods are usually raised each year, any time from March through August. In zoos, breedings have been recorded all year.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. Preference for secondary forest decreases vulnerability to habitat loss. Traditionally exploited for cage-bird trade; as of 2002, only Indonesia exporting.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Very popular in zoos; more than 400 hatched in United States alone since 1968. ♦

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