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Kerala laughingthrush

Strophocincla fairbanki

Photo by M. Chandru (Wikipedia)

Common name:
Kerala laughingthrush (en); zaragateiro-de-Kerala (pt); garrulaxe de Fairbank (fr); charlatán de Kerala (es); Keralahäherling (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Timaliidae

This species is endemic to the Western Ghats of southern Kerala and southern Tamil Nadu, in southern India.

These birds are 17-19 cm long.

The Kerala laughingthrush is mostly found in high altitude scrublands, especially along streams, but also use tea and cardamom plantations, the edges of secondary forests and broadleaved evergreen forests, and rural gardens. they are present at altitudes of 800-2.400 m.

They feed on the nectar of of Lobelia excelsa, Rhododendron sp. and Strobilanthes sp. as well as the berries and fruits of Viburnum sp., Eurya sp., Rubus sp., Maesa sp., Luvunga sp., Trema sp. and Rhodomyrtus tomentosa. They also take some insects.

Kerala laughingthrushes breed in December-June, with a peak in April-May. The nest is a cup made of grasses, rootlets and moss, lined with fine plant fibres and feathers, and placed on fork among dense scrubs, usually 0,5-5 m above the ground. The female lays 2 blue eggs with reddish markings, which are incubated for 14-16 days. The chicks fledge 15-17 days after hatching. After the chicks fledge, or in the event they are predated, the parents destroy the nest.

IUCN status – NT (Near-Threatened)
This species as a small and fragmented breeding range, but is described as locally fairly common. The population is suspected to be declining as a result of habitat loss and degradation, mainly through livestock grazing and harvesting of fuel wood and other forest products such as bamboo and canes. Furthermore, hydroelectric power development and road-building are causing reductions in forest cover in some areas. Having a mountain distribution that is close to the maximum altitude within its range, this species is potentially susceptible to climate change.

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