email a friend
printable version
Sri Lanka Whistling-thrush Myophonus blighi
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information
BirdLife Species Champion Become a BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme Supporter
For information about BirdLife Species Champions and Species Guardians visit the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

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.

Taxonomic source(s)
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Myiophoneus blighi Collar and Andrew (1988), Myiophonus blighi Collar et al. (1994)

20 cm Small, dark thrush. Male is brownish-black and spangled with blue, especially on forehead, supercilium, and inner wing-coverts. Female is brown, with blue shoulder-patch, and rufescent cast to lores, throat and breast. Juvenile like female but has more rusty-brown underparts, with ochre shaft-streaks on head, neck and breast. Voice Call a shrill whistle sree.

Distribution and population
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.

Population justification
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.

Trend justification
Moderate population declines are suspected to be occurring as a result of on-going degradation and loss of habitat across the range.

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.

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).

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).

BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Derhé, M., Gilroy, J., Khwaja, N.

Samarawickrama, V., Kaluthota, C.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Myophonus blighi. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Sri Lanka whistling thrush (Myophonus blighi) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Turdidae (Thrushes)
Species name author (Holdsworth, 1872)
Population size 600-1700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,100 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species