Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Pairs maintain territories throughout the year, although males have been observed roosting communally where territories adjoin (2). The breeding season is reportedly from January to May, and possibly again in September. Positioned on a rock ledge or tree fork next to waterfalls or rapids, the large, compact nests are constructed out of green moss and fern roots, lined with grass and rootlets (2) (3). Clutches seem to contain one to two eggs (2). This extremely shy, elusive species forages on the ground, commonly at the margins of water, where it feeds mainly on insects, but also on snails, small reptiles (geckos and lizards) and amphibians (frogs) (2) (4).
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Description

The male of this small, dark thrush native to Sri Lanka is a beautiful, velvety black spangled with a lustrous blue sheen, particularly on the inner wing-coverts (shoulders), forehead and above the eyes (2) (3). By contrast, the female is dull brown above with a mute purplish-blue shoulder-patch, and reddish-brown underparts, rump and undertail-coverts (2). Juveniles are similar to adult females but have more rusty-brown underparts and narrow buff streaking on the head, neck and breast (2) (3).
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Distribution

Range Description

Myophonus blighi is endemic to Sri Lanka, where it is restricted to the central mountains. It has always been considered scarce and is thought to have a declining, increasingly fragmented population of no more than a few thousand individuals.

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Range

Mountain ravines of Sri Lanka.

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Range

Confined to the central mountains of Sri Lanka (3).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It is a secretive, ground-dwelling bird confined to dense mountain forests above c.900 m, usually close to streams, especially in ravines and gorges. Breeding is from January until May, and possibly again in September, on rock ledges next to waterfalls or rapids and also in the forks of trees.


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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This secretive, ground-dwelling bird is restricted to dense, relatively undisturbed evergreen mountain forests above around 900 metres, although it is now found mainly between 1,200 and 2,100 metres (2) (3) (4). The bird is usually found close to rapid-flowing water and streams, particularly in ravines and gorges (3) (4).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
EN
Endangered

Red List Criteria
B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v);C2a(i)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Samarawickrama, V. & Kaluthota, C.

Justification
This species is listed as Endangered because it has a very small, severely fragmented population and range, which are undergoing a continuing decline as a result of degradation and destruction of upland forest.

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Status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
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Population

Population
The population is estimated to number 1,000-2,499 individuals based on an assessment of recent records and surveys by BirdLife International (2001) who concluded that it is unlikely that it currently numbers more than a few thousand individuals. This estimate equates to 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The main threat is the extensive clearance and degradation of montane forests through conversion to agriculture, firewood collection, particularly around Nuwara Eliya, Maskeliya and Bogowantalawa, and gem mining, which represents a serious threat as activity tends to be concentrated in the species's favoured habitat (C. Kaluthota in litt. 2012). Conversion to timber plantations was a further historical driver, but has now been outlawed. Some protected forests continue to be degraded and are suffering further fragmentation. It has been affected by reductions in food supply because of replacement of natural forests, containing fruiting trees, with monoculture plantations. Run-off from vegetable farms is polluting streams within its range. Forest die-back in the montane region, perhaps as a result of air pollution, is a potential threat. Birdwatchers using tape play-back may adversely affect breeding success at Horton Plains National Park. Human intrusion and nest robbing may also affect breeding success (V. Samarawickrama in litt. 2007).

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The main threat to the Sri Lanka whistling thrush is the clearance of its upland forest habitat, which has left this rare species with a very small, severely fragmented population and range that are undergoing continuing declines. Montane forests have been extensively cleared for conversion to timber plantations and agriculture, firewood collection, particularly around Nuwara Eliya, Maskeliya and Bogowantaalaw, and gem mining. Even some 'protected forests' are unable to escape these threats, and continue to be degraded and fragmented. In particular, the replacement of natural, mixed forests containing fruiting trees with single-species plantations has badly affected this bird by reducing its available food supply. In addition, streams within this species' range are becoming polluted with run-off chemicals such as insecticides and pesticides from nearby vegetable farms, almost certainly harming stream-dependent birds such as the Sri Lanka Whistling-thrush. It has also been speculated that mountain forest die-back may be the result of acid clouds, rain and mist, caused by air-pollution (3) (4).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
It is legally protected in Sri Lanka. A moratorium was passed in 1990 to protect wet zone forests from logging. It occurs in several national parks and forest reserves, most notably Peak Wilderness Sanctuary, Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve and Dothalugala Man and Biosphere Reserve (V. Samarawickrama in litt. 2005). A survey of the biodiversity of 200 forest sites was carried out from 1991-1996.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct a comprehensive survey in order to clarify its status and produce management recommendations for this species in conservation forests and other protected areas. Research the effects of pesticide pollution on this and other species associated with upland streams. Encourage protection of important areas of forest holding this and other threatened species, including proposals to designate conservation forests, and ensure their effective management. Maintain the current ban on logging of wet zone forests. Promote programmes to create awareness of the value of biological resources amongst local communities. Provide an alternative source of heating or fuel to reduce pressure on firewood (C. Kaluthota in litt. 2012). Ensure the continuing protection of Dothalugala Man and Biosphere Reserve (V. Samarawickrama in litt. 2007).

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Conservation

The Sri Lanka whistling thrush is legally protected in Sri Lanka and occurs in several national parks and forest reserves, most notably Peak Wilderness Sanctuary and Hakgala Strict Nature Reserve (3) (4). A moratorium was also passed in 1990 to protect wet zone forests from logging (3).
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Wikipedia

Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush

A Sri Lanka whistling-thrush photographed at night

The Sri Lanka whistling thrush (Myophonus blighi) is a whistling thrush in the family Muscicapidae. It is a resident endemic bird in Sri Lanka.

It is found in the highlands of Sri Lanka in jungle or other dense forest near water. It is omnivorous, eating a wide range of insects, frogs, earthworms and berries. It lays one or two eggs in a neat cup-shaped nest in a bush or on a ledge near water.

It does not form flocks, although several birds may be loosely associated in suitable habitat.

This is a small whistling thrush, at only 20 cm. Adult males are dark blue with a darker head and back. There are bright blue patches on the shoulders, supercilia and forehead. The female is brown above and chestnut below, but has a bright blue shoulder patch like the male.

The male sings its simple whistling song from trees, usually in deep cover.

This is a notoriously difficult species to see, even when the males are singing in the breeding season, which starts in February. It is very shy, scarce, localised and declining due to habitat loss. Perhaps the best chance is at dawn at Horton Plains National Park, 2000m up in the highlands of Sri Lanka.

In culture[edit]

In Sri Lanka, this bird is known as Lanka Arangaya in the Sinhala language. The Whistling-thrush appears in a 75c Sri Lankan postal stamp.[2]

References[edit]

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