Higher classification Tephrodornis
|Scientific name Tephrodornis pondicerianus|
Similar Bird, Tephrodornis, Large woodshrike, Large cuckooshrike, Small minivet
The common woodshrike (Tephrodornis pondicerianus) is a species of bird found in Asia. It has been placed in the cuckoshrike (Campephagidae) and helmetshrike (Prionopidae) families in the past and is now considered a member of the family Tephrodornithidae. It is small and ashy brown with a dark cheek patch and a broad white brow. It is found across Asia mainly in the thin forest and scrub habitats. The form found in Sri Lanka which was treated as a subspecies is now usually considered a separate species, the Sri Lanka woodshrike.
The common woodshrike is dully ashy brown and like other woodshrikes has a large head with a strong hooked beak. They have a broad creamy brow above a dark cheek patch and white outer tail feathers contrasting with their dark tail. The Sri Lankan species is similar darker on the underside, with the dark cheek bordered below by a buffy sub-moustachial stripe and a white rump.
Several subspecies have been named for the populations within the wide range of this species. The northwestern dry region form is paler and given the name of pallidus while the nominate population is found in peninsular India. The population affinis of Sri Lanka has been elevated to a full species C Rasmussen and Anderton (2005) on the basis of distinctive plumage and variation in calls apart from the disjunct distribution. The populations in Southeast Asia are placed in orientis.
Behaviour and ecology
Usually found in pairs, they have a loud whistling song made of several notes. The usual call is a plaintive weet-weet followed by a series of quick whi-whi-whi-whee?. They feed on insects and berries in mainly in vegetation but sometimes descending to the ground. They have a habit of adjusting their wings, raising them over the tail shortly after alighting on a perch. They nest in summer before the rainy season, building a cup nest on a bare fork. The nest is made of fibres and bark held by cobwebs and covered with bits of bark and lichen. It is lined with silky plant fibres. Three eggs are the usual clutch. Both parents incubate. Only the female may feed the young with insects and berries. Two broods may be raised in some years.