The Grey-breasted Laughingthrush (Garrulax fairbanki) also known as the Kerala Laughingthrush is a species of bird in the Timaliidae family endemic to the hills of the Western Ghats south of the Palghat Gap in Southern India. This taxon has been lumped with the grey-breasted race of Trochalopteron cachinnans, which looks similar but is slightly larger and black-chinned. These taxonomic changes were made in 2005 by Pamela C. Rasmussen.
This species has a grey-brown crown and narrow brown eyestripe. There is a white supercilium. The cheek is grey, throat and upper breast is rusty brown with fine brown streaks on the white patch at the throat and upper breast. Iris is dark red or red-brown. Upper plumage, wings and tail are olive-brown tinged with rusty especially on the upper-tail coverets. Length is 20 cm (7.9 in) up to 21.5 cm (8.5 in) with 9.3 cm (3.7 in) tail, 8.8 cm (3.5 in) wing, 3.3 cm (1.3 in) tarsus and 2.4 cm (0.94 in) gape. Both sexes appear the same.
They are found in pairs and small groups and they sometimes join Mixed-species feeding flocks. The breeding season is December and January and the nest is a cup placed in low vegetation. The eggs are blue, marked in various ways with red and brown. One egg measured 2.5 centimeters (1 in) by 2 centimeters (0.8 in). Voice is very loud starting with 1 to 2 steeply ascending notes followed by more abrupt notes.
Wild Raspberries in the Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu
Feeds on invertebrates, wild raspberries and other fruits, mostly on or near the ground in small parties or small hunting groups.
This species was first described from the Kodaikanal region and called the Pulney Laughing-thrush. Its main distribution is in the Palani Hills and Annamalai Hills in western Tamil Nadu and Munnar, India. This bird is locally common in a narrow distribution range in suitable montane habitats above 1,100 meters (3,609 ft) in southern Kerala, western Tamil Nadu. See map showing important bird areas with Grey-breasted Laughingthrush. Its distribution seems to be associated with that of the wild raspberry. It prefers undergrowth, low bushes and bracken thickets growing along stream banks and edges of sholas and in tea and cardamom plantations.
A comparative study on the population and habitat use of the Grey-breasted Laughingthrush was conducted at sites in Kodaikanal Botanical garden, Kodaikanal Golf Course, Berijam, Mannavanur, Kukkal, Poombarai and Paricombai. Bird density was high at Kukkal (1.4 bird/ha), followed by Poombarai (0.5/ha), Kodaikkanal Botanical garden (0.33/ha), Golf course (0.16/ha) and Paricombai (0.22/ha).
This taxon has been lumped with other Laughingthrushes in the past particularly Garrulax cachinnans.
- Garrulax jerdoni meridionale, is found on the southern edge of the distribution. This race of Kerala (South of 9 degree N latitude), has paler brown crown a short supercilium that stops above the eye and much greyer upperparts. The streaks on the white centre of belly and throat are denser.
The threat to Grey-breasted Laughingthrush by habitat loss has been established by the Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON). Their study recommends no further expansion of plantations and restoration of grasslands and shola forests in the Palni hills to protect the species.