Brachypteryx montana, from the family Turdidae, has distinctively long legs with relatively short wings and tails. Mature males typically have a dark grayish blue color with a blackish head and concealed white eyebrows. Mature females normally have a variable amount of brown color and very little blue in the plumage. Immatures are brown and spotted with reddish buff. White-Browed Shortwing is a high-elevation mountain bird that prefers to live on or close to the forest floor. They are often found in dense mountain forests near small streams. Brachypteryx montana is found throughout the Himalayas, and mountainous portions of southeastern Asia, including the Indochinese Peninsula and the Philippines.
- Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
Brachypteryx montana is distributed throughout much of southeast Asia. Shortwings can be found in the central and east Himalayas, within Myanmar, south and south-central China, throughout the Indochinese Peninsula, western Indonesia, the Philippines, northern Borneo, Sumatra and Java
Brachypteryx montana males are typically a uniform dull, dark blue with prominent white supercilia on the forehead. However, plumage color can vary in darkness and color varying from dark blue to a gray blue color. In some species, males have semi-concealed white supercilia. Brachypteryx montana females have plumage consisting of dark brown upperparts and diagnostic bright ferruginous forehead and slight supercilium. Like the males, females plumage color can vary from dark brown to a rusty gray red color. Both immature males and females have brown plumage with a combination of rusty red and dark blueblack spots and have less prominent supercilium. Brachypteryx montana has defining long legs, short wings and tail, and a medium small body. White-Browed Shortwing’s legs, feet, and bill are dark black; the eyes are a dark brown.
Brachypteryx montana poligyna Ogilvie Grant, 1895: Male- upperparts dark blue; eyebrow strip white; lores black; underparts dark blue shading to gray on lower belly. Female—similar to male but with a dark chestnut head and neck; throat paler chestnut, soft parts: Bill black; iris dark brown; feet black Measurements: wing 66; tail 47; bill 14; tarsus 29; Range: Northern and central Luzon and Mindoro (endemic)
Brachypteryx montana sillimani Ripley and Rabor, 1962: Differs from B.m. poligyna by having the blue of the upper and underparts much brighter and by having a longer bill; range: Palawan; Endemic
Brachypteryx montana andersoni Rand and Rabor, 1967: Female- differs from B.m. poliogyna by having the crown darker brown, belly darker gray, and under tail-coverts slate colored; range: southern Luzon (endemic)
Brachypteryx montana mindanensis Mearns, 1905: Differs from B.m. brunneiceps by being larger (wing 70, tail 62); Range: Mt. Apo, Mindanao (endemic)
Brachypteryx montana malindagensis Mearns, 1909: Differs from B.m.mindanensis by having upperparts much darker and the white eyebrows reduced; Range: Mt. Malindang, Mindanao (Endemic)
Brachypteryx montana brunneiceps Ogilvie Grant, 1896: Male- differs from B.m. poliogyna by having the top of head and throat blue black. Female- underparts darker, also smaller (wing female: 64 and tail 44; Range: Negros (endemic)
Brachypteryx montana crualis Blyth, 1843: Differs from the diagnostic description in that plumage is darker from chin to breast, then shading greyer along the belly with longer supercilium; Range: central and eastern Himalaas, Myanmar, south and south central china, northwest Thailand and mountainous regions of western indonesia.
Brachypteryx montana sinensis Rickett and La Touce, 1897: similar to B.m curalis but males are a dull pale blue gray from chin to breast shading to a whitish gray, with narrow white edge of carpals, females with more rufescent wings and no chestnut color on face; Range: southeastern China
Brachypteryx montana goodfellowi Ogilvie-Grant, 1912: Male is olive-brown above, slightly rustier on forehead and rump, with long supercilium, paler below, whitish on mid-belly, bill black and much longer than in other races, legs brown, female similar but with slightly weaker supercilium; Range: mountains of Taiwan
Brachypteryx montana saturata Salvador, 1879: is like the diagnostic description but breast is darker in both sexes; Range: Sumatra
Brachypteryx montana erythrogyna Sharpe, 1888: males resemble the diagnostic description, females like male on mantle and scapulars, with olive-brown crown, rufous-chestnut face and underparts and blackish-chestnut tail; Range: Northern Borneo
Brachypteryx montana montana Horsfield, 1821: both males and females resemble diagnostic description; Range: Java
Brachypteryx montana floris Hartert, 1897: male is similar to the diagnostic description but paler blue above, reddish-brown wings, face dark ashy-brown, underparts ashy with whitish throat and mid-abdomen, darker grey flanks, female olive-brown on crown becoming rufous-brown from mantle to back and foxy chestnut on lower back, rump and outer wings plainer brown, white below, buff-brown cheeks, grayish breast and grey-based buff brown flanks; Range: Flores (Lesser Sundas)
In the Philippines, specifically Luzon, Negros, and Panay, Brachypteryx montana can be confused with the slightly lager White-Browed Shama. The two birds differ in that the shama has a longer tail and white belly and mainly resides in the lowlands.
Habitat and Ecology
Brachypteryx montana resides in dense undergrowth, brushwood, thickets, bamboo and bracken tracts in damp shady old mossy oak, fir and rhododendron forests. They prefer to live around tree falls or near streams and occasionally can be found in ravines, gullies and crevasses. Being a montane bird, Brachypteryx montana is typically found between an elevation of 800m-3600m depending on the geographic area it inhabits.
Countries with Populations:
Bhutan, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietna
Life History and Behavior
Brachypteryx montana are fairly shy birds and can be hard to see, making them often only detected by their beautiful song. Their song consists of long quick series of strong explosive warbling whistles introduced with one to three whistled wheez notes which then rise and fall between multiple 5-15 second intervals. These calls can be heard at almost all daylight hours but are most consistently heard in the early morning and late afternoon. White-Browed Shortwings are shy skulkers, preferring to be on or near the ground, in the depths of dark vegetation, where they feed on small insects, earthworms, larvae, berries, seeds, sprouts and new buds of plants.
Nests typically are cup-shaped, built of a woven mixture of mosses, grasses, bamboo leaves, epiphyte roots and ferns, and lined with rootlets and fine fibers, with a circular side entrance near the ground (no higher than 10m) or occasionally on fallen trees. Both nesting males and females put on a display that serves to distract possible predators away from the nest by giving off a sequenced alarm call, pointing its tail feathers and flicking its wings rapidly. These displays hold resemblances to their courtship behavior, yet much about their courtship ritual is unknown.
Brachypteryx montana follows a fairly typical breeding cycle. In the Himalayas the breeding months are from May until July. In the Philippines breeding is from February to August. In Borneo breeding typically occurs in February and in Java from October to April.
In the Philippines, Brachypteryx montana typically lays two to three glossy white eggs. There is no known information on incubation and nestling period.
Brachypteryx montana commonly exhibits vertical movements along an elevation gradient. In the Himalayas they are typically resident at elevations between 1500m and 3660m for the summer seasons and rarely seen above an elevation of 2000 in the winter months.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Brachypteryx montana
No available public DNA sequences.
Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Brachypteryx montana
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
The 2010 IUCN Red List (with evaluation from BirdLife International) places this species conservation status as Least Concern. The status was set as Least Concern as this species has a large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion. Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion. The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion.