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Whistling thrush

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Whistling thrush
Taiwan whistling thrush
(Myophonus insularis)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Muscicapidae
Subfamily: Saxicolinae
Genus: Myophonus
Temminck, 1822
Type species
Myophonus metallicus[1]
Temminck, 1822

See text

The whistling thrushes comprise a genus Myophonus of the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae.

They are all medium-sized mostly insectivorous or omnivorous birds. They are all brightly coloured species found in India and south-eastern Asia. The male is usually blue, and the females are either similar to the male or brown. The brighter blue patches found on the shoulders and sometimes the head, of whistling thrushes, uniquely for a passerine, reflect strongly in the ultraviolet.[2]


The genus Myophonus was introduced in 1822 by the Dutch zoologist Coenraad Jacob Temminck to accommodate a single species, Myophonus metallicus Temminck. This is a junior synonym of Turdus flavirostris Horsfield, a subspecies of the blue whistling thrush which is therefore the type species.[3][4] There has been confusion as to the correct spelling of the genus name. Temminck's work was published in 102 parts (livraisons) and Plate 170 with the associated text was included in Livraison 29 which was issued in December 1822. However, the assembled volumes included pages inserted before Plate 170 with the genus name spelled as Myiophoneus. These inserted pages cannot have been issued earlier than 1832.[5][6] The genus name Myophonus is from the Ancient Greek muia meaning "fly" and phoneus meaning "slayer".[7]

As the English name suggests, the genus was at one time placed in the thrush family Turdidae but in 2010 two separate molecular phylogenetic studies found that members of the genus were more closely related to species in the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae.[8][9]

The genus includes nine species several of which have ranges that are restricted to islands or peninsulas:[10]

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
Sri Lanka whistling thrush Myophonus blighi found on Sri Lanka
Shiny whistling thrush Myophonus melanurus Sumatra
Javan whistling thrush Myophonus glaucinus Java
Bornean whistling thrush Myophonus borneensis Borneo
Brown-winged whistling thrush Myophonus castaneus Sumatra
Malayan whistling thrush Myophonus robinsoni peninsular Malaysia
Malabar whistling thrush Myophonus horsfieldii peninsular India
Taiwan whistling thrush or Taiwan whistling-thrush Myophonus insularis Taiwan
Blue whistling thrush Myophonus caeruleus from Central Asia east to China and south to the Sundas

Javan, Bornean and brown-winged were formerly lumped as the Sunda whistling thrush, but were split in 2004.[11]


Shape of bill M. caeruleus

Whistling thrushes are mostly seen in hilly areas except during winter when they may descend to streams near the plains. They specialize in feeding on snails and their strong hooked bills are used to deal with them. They may choose a particular rock on which they crack the shells.[12]

The nests are usually in crevices of rocks and boulders close to water. The cup nests have moss and twigs and is lined with roots and leaves. The eggs are usually three and sometimes four, elongate with a gray ground colour and marked with speckles.[12]


  1. ^ "Muscicapidae". aviansystematics.org. The Trust for Avian Systematics. Retrieved 2023-07-15.
  2. ^ Staffan Andersson (1996). "Bright Ultraviolet Colouration in the Asian Whistling-Thrushes (Myiophonus spp.)". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 263 (1372): 843–848. doi:10.1098/rspb.1996.0124. S2CID 85775729.
  3. ^ Temminck, Coenraad Jacob (1838) [1822]. Nouveau recueil de planches coloriées d'oiseaux, pour servir de suite et de complément aux planches enluminées de Buffon (in French). Vol. 2. Paris: F.G. Levrault. Plate 170, text Livraison 29. The 5 volumes were originally issued in 102 livraison (parts), 1820-1839. The genus name was introduced in the description of Plate 170 which was included in Livraison 29 and published in 1822.
  4. ^ Dickinson, E.C.; Christidis, L., eds. (2014). The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. Vol. 2: Passerines (4th ed.). Eastbourne, UK: Aves Press. p. 601. ISBN 978-0-9568611-2-2.
  5. ^ Deignan, H.G. (1965). "Notes on the nomenclature of the whistling-thrushes". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 85: 3–4.
  6. ^ Dickinson, E.C. (2001). "Systematic notes on Asian birds. 9. The Nouveau recueil de planches coloriées of Temminck & Laugier (1820–1839)". Zoologische Verhandelingen, Leiden. 335: 7–53 [29].
  7. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 264. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  8. ^ Sangster, G.; Alström, P.; Forsmark, E.; Olsson, U. (2010). "Multi-locus phylogenetic analysis of Old World chats and flycatchers reveals extensive paraphyly at family, subfamily and genus level (Aves: Muscicapidae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 57 (1): 380–392. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.07.008. PMID 20656044.
  9. ^ Zuccon, D.; Ericson, P.G.P. (2010). "A multi-gene phylogeny disentangles the chat-flycatcher complex (Aves: Muscicapidae)". Zoologica Scripta. 39 (3): 213–224. doi:10.1111/j.1463-6409.2010.00423.x. S2CID 85963319.
  10. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "Chats, Old World flycatchers". World Bird List Version 6.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  11. ^ Collar, N.J. (2004). "Species limits in some Indonesian thrushes" (PDF). Forktail. 20: 71–87.
  12. ^ a b Delacour, J. (1942). "The Whistling Thrushes (genus Myiophoneus)" (PDF). Auk. 59 (2): 246–264. doi:10.2307/4079555. JSTOR 4079555.

Further reading[edit]