The Malabar Whistling Thrush, Myophonus horsfieldii, is a whistling thrush in the thrush family Turdidae. They are also known locally by the name of Whistling Schoolboy for the very human whistling calls that they make at dawn.
It is a resident in the Western Ghats and associated hills in peninsular India. Populations are resident but have been known to disperse widely in winter. They are also found in some parts of central India and in the Eastern Ghats.
Malabar Whisting Thrushes are usually found in dark undergrowth and dense riverine forest. It is omnivorous, eating a wide range of insects, frogs, earthworms and berries. They are usually seen singly or in pairs.
Adults are 25cm long, dark blue with a blacker head and back. There are bright blue patches on the shoulders and forehead. The juvenile has browner plumage and lack the blue forehead.
This is a bold species and is often found close to human habitation. The male sings its varied and melodious whistling song from trees during summer. They may song for long early at dawn but at other times of the day they often utter sharp single or two note whistles. They were once popular as cage birds, with the ability to learn entire tunes.
The birds breed from March to December. In a study in Silent Valley on nest-site selection, a total of 21 nests were found mostly on rocks along the edge of the stream and one each in a tree hole and inside an abandoned building. The nest is a cup made of moss, bamboo roots and grass, with a broad base and tapering towards the top. The base of the nest was pasted on to the rock with mud. Mean nest height was 14.8 cm and depth 7.4 cm. The mean outer width and inner width were 21.5 cm and 13.1 cm respectively. Mean height from the ground was 125.8 cm.
The nest sites were about 6 m from water with 60% rock cover. The nests were mostly fully concealed and nesting success was directly related to it. The birds show high site fidelity; occupying and nesting near their previous season nests.
The clutch consists of about 2 to 4 eggs.
- ^ Praveen, J. 2006. Post-monsoon dispersal of Malabar Whistling Thrush Myiophonus horsfieldii (Vigors) to Chamundi Hill and Nandi Hills, Karnataka, Southern India. ZOOS' PRINT JOURNAL 21(9): 2411 PDF
- ^ Anoop Das, K.S., Vijayan L. (2003) Nest and nest site selection of Malabar Whistling Thrush in Silent Valley In Proc. of the 28th Conference of the Ethological Soc. of India, Mundanthurai, Tirunelveli (Eds. R. Annamalai, M,. Narayanan & Juliet Vanitharani). Dept. Zool. Sara Tucker College, Tirunelveli & Tamil Nadu Forest Dept, KMTR, Tirunelveli. Pp 83-86