Thrushes are arboreal or terrestrial passerine birds belonging to the subfamily Turdinae, a division of the complex Flycatcher family Muscicapidae which includes robins (e.g. Magpie-Robin, Shama), chats (Pied Bush Chat, Redstart), dippers, ground and rock thrushes and many others. The other component subfamilies of Muscicapidae are the true flycatchers (Muscicapinae), warblers (Sylviinae) and babblers (Timaliinae) which include the laughing thrushes. However, the term Thrush or Blackbird in a particular sense is usually applied to members of the genus Turdus, about the size of a myna and predominantly black or blackish in colour. The genus is represented by a number of species in the Himalaya and by a single one (Turdus merula) with a number of subspecies in the peninsular hills.
In the Indian subcontinent Blackbirds are essentially mountain-loving birds but they descent to lower altitudes in winter, some species then dispersing far and wide over the plains. Many others are true winter visitors, migrating long distances from northern lands.
Thrushes include some of the finest avian songsters, and during spring and summer which are the breeding season, their native hills resound with their rich, fluty and long-sustained melody. Perhaps the most accomplished performer among them is the Greywinged Blackbird (Turdus boulboul) of the Himalaya, distinguished by a prominent pale grey wing-patch. It is a favourite cage bird in Kashmir and Punjab. Thrushes feed largely on drupes and berries, and invertebrate animals like snails and earthworms. The nest is a bulky cup of moss, rootlets and grass, usually intermixed with a quantity of mud. It is built in the fork of a small tree or shrub. Three to five eggs are laid, pale bluish or greyish green speckled with reddish brown.
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(Last Updated on : 07-06-2013)