News and Information on Birding Sites Throughout Thailand and the Andaman

Blue Whistling Thrush

Love it or hate it, this bird is like the girl at the party who you found to be attractive but in the end couldn’t get rid of no matter how hard you tried. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Blue Whistling Thrush.

The Blue Whistling Thrush Myophonus caeruleus is a large bird, reaching 38 cm. from front to back. It sports a silky, deep blue gown with sparkling silver spots like sequins spread throughout. When the light hits it just right, the bird is a stunner.

To go with its lovely evening gown, the bird has a collection of moves which would win it a following if ever it decided to enter a Miss Universe contest. One favorite is actually a reaction to being threatened, where the bird will fan and unfan its tail at intervals whilst pointing it in the direction of its enemy.

So it’s flirtatious, it’s gorgeous and it even has a lovely singing voice at times. –What’s not to like about it?

Normally the bird is a shy and skulking species which prefers to remain in the underbrush. However, there is one thing which greatly alters the behavior of the bird, something which will make it transform from a shy, retiring nerd into a loud, pompous cheerleader: food.

The Blue Whistling Thrush is strong, aggressive feeder. It is usually found in areas where water is present. It forages in gullies, along stream sides or anywhere where it is moist and damp. It is an omnivore but has shown itself to be an opportunistic feeder; while its forest brethren feed on fruits, worms and insects, individuals living near human settlements are often found in dumps and even scavenge on roadkill. It will fight off smaller birds and sometimes challenge larger birds for the right to eat.

Bird photographers who have experience photographing pittas will testify of the irritation they suffer at the hands of this bird. Since most pitta also tend to feed in the same environment as a Blue Whistling Thrush, photographers find that much of the time spent waiting for the pitta to appear is spent in the company of this loud, brash bird. What makes it go from a beautiful, attractive supermodel to a hated villain is simple: food.

Worms laid out to attract the pitta are often gobbled up by the mouthfuls, often in a hurried and less-than-cultured manner. Anything that is left after the bird has eaten its fill is aggressively guarded, meaning that any other interesting birds which wander by will be chased off by the greedy hoarder. For bird photographers and watchers, this means the day will be spent watching only one channel: The “I am All You Ever Need to See” rerun starring B.W Thrush.

The call of the bird is a loud whistle with a slight upward inflection at the end. It alarm call is a throaty, hissing kaaah.

As a terrestrial feeder, the bird has strong legs and moves very quickly and with great athleticism.

In Thailand we have two subspecies of Blue Whistling Thrush; eugenei and caeruleus. The latter has a black beak while the former has a yellow bill.

Blue Whistling Thrush are widespread and found from as far as Afghanistan in the west to China’s Pacific coast on the east and as far south as Java in Indonesia. They are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Redlist due to their large range and aggressive breeding habits.

This individual was photographed in Mae Wong National Park in central Thailand.

Categories: Bird of the Month

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