Whistling Thrushes in Malaysia

posted in: Species | 4

Peninsular Malaysia has two resident Whistling Thrushes, Blue (Myophonus caeruleus) (above) and Malayan (M. robinsoni). The former has a wide distribution that includes South-central Asia, Southern Tibet, the Himalayas, part of the Indian subcontinent and China, down south to Southeast Asia, up to Sumatra and Java. The Malayan, on the other hand, has a very limited range: confined only to the Main Range from Cameron Highlands south to Genting Highlands (below).

The two species are differentiated by size, the Malayan being, according to Wells (2007), “Roughly 15 percent smaller and proportionately longer – rather than, as often assumed, shorter-tailed than Blue Whistling Thrush…” Also, the Malayan lacks the white spotting on the median wing-coverts, which are not present in the juvenile Blue. The Malayan has blue forehead, which is however, inconspicuous in deep shade.

Few birders have seen the Blue Whistling Thrush and fewer still the Malaysian Whistling Thrush. Ecological information on these birds is scarce and since the discovery of the nesting at Cameron Highlands by Allan Teo, we have made a number of posts on the nesting behaviour: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

KC Tsang & Allan Teo
April 2008
(Image of Blue Whistling Thrush by KC Tsang and that of Malayan Whistling Thrush by Allan Teo)

Wells, D.R. (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London.


4 Responses

  1. During 2009 a project entitled “A PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT OF THE FIELD IDENTIFICATION, STATUS AND POPULATION OF REGIONALLY ENDEMIC WHISTLING-THRUSH TAXA IN PENINSULAR MALAYSIA” will be taking place. Fieldwork for the project will take place at four localities: Cameron Highlands, Fraser’s Hill, Perlis State Park and the limestone hills around Ipoh. Birds will be trapped for morphometric data and colour-banded.

    The Project Team would be grateful to receive any reports of whistling-thrushes in West Malaysia, with the following details:

    Location (with GPS/Google Earth coordinates if possible)
    Time of sighting
    Any coloured bands seen (specifying colour and right or left leg
    Nesting details (if any)

    Please send any information to Dave Bakewell at: digdeep1962atyahoodotcom

  2. Bryon Wright

    Not West Malaysia, but observed the nominate, race of the blue-whistling thrush at Fort Canning, Singapore, 3/12/2019. It was feather perfect apart the central pair of tail feathers, being renewed. I took lots of behavioural details but perhaps the bird was an escape, but it was unringed.

  3. If you can share the behavioural details, we can post them here. You can send the notes and photos to fernnybird@gmail.com

  4. Bryon Wright

    The blue-whistling thrush chose a micro habitat, at Fort Canning, remarkably natural for the species. A rivulet of water coming down a storm drain adjacent to the old wall at Fort Canning. It dropped on prey from the wall or bounded along, pitta like on huge legs through the leaf litter and along the green incline. I can provide a full plumage description but I am sure someone else will photograph it, because it looked settled. It looked remarkably like one of the small forms with an all dark bill and lacked the vivid iridescent spangles of a typical whistling thrush. This plumage in dull light showed iridescence mainly on the mantle but the greater covert spots were also noticeable. The duller plumage made it look like one of the duller endemic forms but this is a larger and more powerful bird. .


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