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Ashy-headed Laughingthrush Garrulax cinereifrons
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

This species is listed as Vulnerable, as it has a small population and range, which are severely fragmented and undergoing continuing declines as a result of clearance and degradation of humid forest habitats.

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

23 cm. Rather plain laughingthrush. Greyish head, rufous-brown upperparts and tail, tawny underparts with paler throat and dark bill and legs. Juvenile has brighter rufous underparts. Voice Harsh chattering amongst a group of birds usually ending in a hurried scream.

Distribution and population
Garrulax cinereifrons is endemic to Sri Lanka, where it is confined to the lowlands and adjacent hills of the wet zone in the south-west of the island. Little is known of its population, but it appears never to have been abundant and now has a declining, increasingly fragmented population of probably no more than a few thousand individuals.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals, based on a detailed analysis in BirdLife International (2001), who concluded that its total population numbers no more than a few thousand individuals. This estimate equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
A moderate and on-going population decline is suspected, owing to habitat degradation across the species's range.

The species occurs in both edge and interior of primary and logged humid forests, up to 1,520 m. It is a 'gap-edge' specialist, being almost invariably associated with canopy gaps, even in deep areas away from forest boundaries (Siriwardhane 2007). In its apparent stronghold, the Sinharaja Forest, the species occurs in higher densities in the 20 year old selectively logged forest than in the unlogged forest (Siriwardhane 2007). It forages among litter and in understorey vegetation, usually in monospecific or mixed-species flocks, often with Orange-billed Babbler Turdoides rufescens. Its diet consists of small vertebrates (e.g. frogs), small invertebrates in leaf-litter and seeds. It also plucks ripe fruit from understorey trees and herbs and possibly picks fallen ripe fruits as well. Breeding season is probably extended since nests have been found even in December (Siriwardhane 2007), but mainly April to September.

The main threat is the extensive clearance of forests, particularly in the wet zone, through logging, fuelwood-collection, conversion to agriculture and tree plantations, gem mining, settlement and fire. It could benefit from low levels of selective logging, as this may increase the number of small light gaps that provide suitable habitat for this species. However, wholesale clearance and fragmentation is likely to be highly detrimental, as it is probably unable to move between isolated patches. Much fragmentation is driven by clearance (of forest and home gardens) for small-scale tea cultivation, and although illegal, encroachment into government-owned forests is on-going, as they lack proper conservation status and are often considered proposed forest reserves (C. Kaluthota in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Underway
It is legally protected in Sri Lanka. A moratorium was passed in 1990 to protect wet zone forests from logging. A survey of the biodiversity of 200 forest sites was carried out in 1991-1996, and research has been carried out on the micro-habitat requirements of this species. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct a comprehensive survey in order to clarify its distribution and status and to produce management recommendations for this species in conservation forests and other protected areas. Research its life history and ecology, particularly the effects of forest fragmentation on its population and distribution. Encourage protection of remaining 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 the logging of wet zone forests. Promote programmes to create awareness of the value of biological resources amongst local communities. Implement strict law enforcement to prevent encroachment into existing protected areas (C. Kaluthota in litt. 2012).

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

Jayasekara, P.; Takatsuki, S.; Weerasinghe, U. R.; Wijesundara, S. 2003. Arboreal fruit visitors in a tropical forest in Sri Lanka. Mammal Study 28: 161-165.

Siriwardhane, A. M .S. 2007. Microhabitat selection of the Ashy-headed Laughingthrush (Garrulax cinereifrons (Sylviidae)) in unlogged and regenerating selectively logged forest tracts in the Sinharaja World Heritage Site, Sri Lanka. MSc, University of Colombo.

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

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Gilroy, J., Taylor, J.

Kaluthota, C.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Garrulax cinereifrons. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

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 - Ashy-headed laughingthrush (Garrulax cinereifrons) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Timaliidae (Babblers and parrotbills)
Species name author Blyth, 1851
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 15,800 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species