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White Bellied Shortwing – A Vulnerable Species

2 September 2010 One Comment

The White-bellied Shortwing (Brachypteryx major) is a species of bird in the Turdidae family endemic to southern India. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. It is a highly threatened species and is likely to be endangered due to heavy habitat loss. This species is also known as Nilgiri Blue Robin.
White bellied Shortwing

Size & Colorization

It is a small, compact bird with a plump body, coloured with a dark bluish-grey head, breast and upperside, and a white underside.

Two subspecies of the white-bellied shortwing are recognised: Brachypteryx major major has dark red sides and undertail feathers, whereas the blue colouration of the head and back continues down onto the sides and undertail feathers in Brachypteryx major albiventris.

Range & Habitats

The white-bellied shortwing is endemic to the Southern Western Ghats in India. B. m. major is found north section of Western Ghats, in southern Karnataka and the Nilgiri Hills, whereas B. m. albiventris is found south, in western Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

This bird inhabits the mountain areas of the Western Ghats forests, preferring above 1,500 meters from sea-level. Its likely to be associated with streams and wet areas. At times it also be seen in eucalyptus and acacia plantations and gardens close to primary forest.


Shortwings are insect-eating ground-feeders, picking caterpillars and small flies from the forest floor, road-sides and stream sides.


The white-bellied shortwing may found in pairs throughout the year. Breeding time is during the monsoon season, between March and June, laying between two and three eggs in May. Nests are built in valleys and tree hollows, and sometimes on pathside and roadside banks. Each nest consists of a large, poorly constructed bundle of green moss formed loosely into a shallow cup that may be lined with rootlets.


Although generally a quiet species, in the breeding season an occasional high-pitched and pleasant song can be heard. The call is either a chattering rattle or a thin whistle.

One Comment »

  • Naseer Ommer said:

    Excellent work Kichu. You did justice to the image :)Keep it up and all de Best.

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