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Nilgiri Laughingthrush – Birds of Kerala

16 March 2011 2 Comments

Nilgiri laughingthrush, Trochalopteron cachinnans, is an endangered (IUCN 3.1) bird species endemic to the Nilgiri areas of Western Ghats. This species is also known as Rufous-breasted Laughingthrush or Black-chinned Laughingthrush. Its global population is principally confined to the Nilgiri Hills, India. Once rich, its shola habitat witnessed significant loss during the 19th and 20th centuries with the arrival of tea plantations. The remaining habitat also faces severe threat from grazing, lopping, and intrusion.

Size and Colorization

Nilgiri Laughingthrush

Nilgiri Laughingthrush is a birds sized about 20cms similar to grey-chested laughingthrush. It has a black upper throat with a rufous colored cheek, lower throat and central underparts. It has a clear black eyeline bordered with a thick white supercilium. The upperpart is fully brownish. The race jerdoni has a grey breast with faint streaks. Male and female have similar in colorization.

Distribution and Habitat

Endemic to the Niligiri region of peninsular India, the distribution is restricted very much due to it’s habitat lost. Though it’s common in its habitat the population is small and reducing due to heavy destruction of Shola forests. The preferred spots are Shola forest with dense undergrowth and fringes. Also in wooded gardens, forest edge and patches of thick scrub.

The race jerdoni is restricted to the Brahmagiri areas of Coorg and Wayanad, while the nominate race cachinnans is found in the Nilgiri hills.

Photographing this bird is a real challenge, as it keeps moving inside the thickets rarely popping out to show its presence. Chances are high to spot these endangered species at Doddabetta and Ooty areas of Nilgiri hills.


Breeding season from January to June during an year. The nests are being made from February to beginning of June. The nest is normally built using roots, dead leaves, small twigs, and lichen, neatly lined with very fine grass stems. They normally have two eggs in greenish-blue with a few large and small brown spots and streaks.


This species mainly feeds on invertebrates, nectar, flowers and fruits, mostly within three meters of the ground. The feeding time is at early morning and late afternoon.


This is a noisy bird with a distinctive laughing call.


  • Neelakandan said:

    Good one Kichu….

  • Manish Samuel said:

    Nilgiri of peninsular India is one of the most beautiful place.And its avalanche of mud smell during raining period.

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