Saturday, 4 August 2012

Laughing Thrushes

Laughingthrushes are members of the huge Babblers family. It is a large and diverse group of birds. As the name implies, they are about the size of a thrush and also behave similarly by hopping on the ground, picking up leaves on the forest floor. In addition to their thrush-like appearance and behaviour, they all have their own loud and unique laugh-like songs and calls, leading to the name Laughingthrush.

Northern Thailand holds the greatest variety of laughingthrushes in Thailand, with 10 out of the total 12 species found in the country. They are among one of my most favourite bird groups. On May 5, I had a chance to visit Mae Wong National Park in Kampaeng Phet Province along with some other birding friends. The camping ground at the top of Chong Yen is famous for its human-friendly wildlife. Few months earlier, a Leopard Cat and Yellow-throated Martens were the stars of the camp ground. Unfortunately, they have all disappeared during my visit. Anyway, several species of laughinghthrushes did put on a really nice show for all of us.

My favourite White-necked Laughingthrush

Looking much more natural on the tree

The obliging Silver-eared Laughingthrush

Young bird (right) begging for food

There were 3 species of laughingthrushes showing at the camp ground of Chong Yen. The first one that marked the appearance on my SD card was the most obliging Silver-eared Laughingthrush (Garrulax melanostigma schistaceus). There were at least 3 of them, parents and a young adult. The young adult was still begging for food from its parents even though it already looked exactly like them. Some other photographers that were also there put out some meal worms for them and the birds loved it.

White-necked Laughingthrushes

A really cool laughingthrush in my opinion

Preening and relaxing after the meal

The smaller Black-throated Laughingthrush

The next species to show up was the charismatic White-necked Laughingthrush (Garrulax strepitans). It's definitely my most favourite out of the three. I can say with confidence that Mae Wong NP is the easiest place in the world to see this normally extremely elusive species. I still remember seeing an extremely shy flock of them at Doi Inthanon. Here at Chong Yen, everything was different. I just couldn't enjoy them more.

The last species that were coming to the feeding area was the smallest and shyest Black-throated Laughingthrush (Garrulax chinensis lochmius). Because of its small size, it was constantly scared off by other laughingthrushes, I guess. There were only 2 of them and both were fast and shy. I still need to get a better shot of this species. At least, it is widespread and can be found even in my local patch. Hope someday I can get a chance to photograph them nicely.

White-necked with Black-throated Laughingthrush in the background

Curious look

They were in a pretty good number!


  1. Wow. Another great effort. Well done, Ayuwat.

  2. Great photographs and observations. I bet with the shadows and speed of the birds that they're not so easy to ID on the move. Your photographs, however manage to capture their differences beautifully. A really super study of laughing thrushes. Especially good work in tghe shadows.

  3. Amazing colours on the Silver-eared - must blend in well with the jungle colours.

  4. Amazing colors on these birds and beautiful pictures...