Whistling-Thrush  birds

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From the family of Turdidae

Whistling Thrush are mid-sized insectivorous and omnivorous jungle birds. The bird is brightly colored in dark blue for male and  the female more brownish. Then the patch on their head and shoulder could be reflected as blue. The Whistling Thrushes can be consistently divided into 2 types, the much larger Blue Whistling Thrush available in many countries. The bird loves rocky surfaces on river banks, found either in lowland or sub-montane climate. They would wander in the open looking for food and food is made up of worms, small frog, fishes, crabs, lizard and even snakes.

Another type, there is a variety of sub-species endemic Whistling Thrushes are confined to their individual lands and Islands. These Whistling Thrushes having another set of habits confine themselves on hilly slopes in deep gully, then descend onto the small streams for food. This species has stronger hooked beak specializing in snails which they would pick up and breaks them on rocks. The bird most active in dawn and dusk, would even come out the open when the place is deserted.

The bird's call is an unique whistle tone, varying from one close to that made by humans to one sharp shrill similar to that made by the Pygmy Wren.

Sunda Whistling Thrush Myophonus glaucinus
Malayan Whistling Thrush Myophonus robinsoni
Blue Whistling Thrush Myophonus caeruleus

Under the family of Turdinae, there are the Rock thrushes, Whistling Thrushes and Common Thrushes. Within the Asian region there should be 10 Whistling thrushes and in Malaysia we could see 3 of them.


Blue Whistling-Thrush  Myophonus caeruleus


 Size & diagnostic markings:- This bird is large at 35 cm with dark purplish blue features with a very faint  spangling. the bird generally has a yellow bill but there should be another  sub-species M. dicrorhynchus in Malaysia with a dark bill.

 Distribution :-  In Russia, the southern slopes of the Himalayas in India and China then down to Sumatra and Java.
 Habitats & preferences:- In Malaysia, the bird should be sub-montane but there is one in Ipoh which is living in the lowlands.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- Along the larger rivers with rocky banks. Most noticeably, Tanah rata in Cameron Highlands.
Record of bird's calls :-    and Videos

Blue Whistling-Thrush  # 1

Blue Whistling-Thrush   # 2

Blue Whistling-Thrush # 3

Blue Whistling-Thrush  # 4

Blue Whistling-Thrush  # 5

Blue Whistling-Thrush  # 6

Blue Whistling-Thrush  # 7

Blue Whistling-Thrush # 8

Blue Whistling-Thrush   # 9

Blue Whistling-Thrush   # 10

Blue Whistling-Thrush  # 11

Blue Whistling-Thrush  # 12

Blue Whistling-Thrush  # 16

Blue Whistling-Thrush   # 17

Blue Whistling-Thrush   # 18

 My personal jottings :- I have taken a lot of this bird and I find it well domesticated because of its habits of foraging in areas where human presence is perpetual.


Bornean Whistling-Thrush  Myophonus borneensis


 Size & diagnostic markings:- The bird is mid-size at 28 cm long. the male with a spangled breast and the female more brownish.

 Distribution :-  Within the whole Island of Borneo.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a montane to sub-montane bird preferring mountain stream and dark places.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- So far I know of Mount Kota Kinabalu.
Record of bird's calls :-    and Videos

female Whistling-Thrush  # 1

pair- Whistling-Thrush   # 2

Bornean Whistling-Thrush # 3

Bornean Whistling-Thrush  # 4

pair - Whistling-Thrush  # 5

female Whistling-Thrush  # 6

 My personal jottings :- This bird was a split with the Javan Whistling thrush and given a name Sunda Whistling Thrush Myophonus glaucinus. The one mentioned above is the latest split with its own name.


Malayan Whistling-Thrush  Myophonus robinsoni



 Size & diagnostic markings:- The bird is 26 cm long with all the looks of the more common Blue-whistling Thrush. The colr of the bird less brilliant and with shorter bills.

 Distribution :-  This bird endemic to Malaysia and found only in Pahang.
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a mountain bird hiding in the deep gully most of the time. Very little is known and therefore cannot ascertain where else the birds could be seen.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- So far only in Frasers Hills.
Record of bird's calls :-    and Videos

Malayan Whistling-Thrush  # 1

Malayan Whistling-Thrush   # 2

Malayan Whistling-Thrush # 3

My personal jottings on the Malayan WhistlingThrush:- Though it is repeatedly mention that bird hunts or appear at dawn and dusk, the bird do make regular appearances surreptitiously and unnoticed during the day. There were report of having sighted it at 4.00pm and I have got my pictures at 10.30am. I think the best clue would be to recognize its calls and remain alerted for its split seconds coming out in the open.

Compared with many rare birds in Malaysia, these 3 Whistling Thrushes are easier to meet up with and the chances are more than good. The Blue Whistling Thrush would appear daily according to its own schedule. The birds in different places showed little fear for humans when it is in a  comfortable distances. It will continue with its routine for good amount of time for photos to be taken. The Bornean Whistling would be a bit of problem as there is a need to be in Borneo. But once there, the pair of birds roost beneath the Bungalows and would be wandering in the compound the whole day. Keep your distances and the birds would remain for a while.

Lastly the mysterious Malayan Whistling Thrush though having its own habit can also be viewed given some time. It appears regularly but not consistently. The only snack here would be getting its pictures. I was lucky with a chance meeting at 10.30am in the morning and blessed with good sunlight. The bird didn't stay long.