Bristled Grassbird

Bristled Grassbird      Chaetornis striata

Etymology :

  • Chaetornis : Greek word khaite -hair; ornis –
  • Striata : Latin word meaning Striated

Vernacular Names:  Guj: Kantavali khad-fudki, Ghasfutki, Te: Grenta pitta, Mar: Reshal/ Mishiwala gavati Vatvatya

Distribution in India: Winters in Central India. But can be seen across the country with no specific location.

Description: Size of 19-20 cm. A large warbler with broadly graduated long tail, and relatively short, almost laniid-like bill enhanced by flat crown; unique facial protection in form of movable flap of loral skin in which a row of five stiff rictal bristles is vertically set (these can be moved to and fro, as if hinged, and form a “visor” to protect bird’s eyes as it moves through sharp-edged grasses). Has forehead and crown warm brown, weakly streaked darker, nape buffy brown, streaked darker; side of head and ear-coverts buffy brown, weak dull Supercilium and a darker shade behind eye; mantle, scapulars and upper tail-coverts buffy brown with bold blackish streaking (streaking most apparent when plumage worn), rump weakly streaked; wings extensively buffy brown, contrasting with very dark-centered tertials, latter edged with coppery brown; upper tail dull brown, central feather pair lighter brown, with fine dark barring, tipped buff-white; off-white below, washed buffy on breast, flanks and under tail-coverts (some are washed light yellow below in fresh plumage), indistinct necklace of fine black shaft streaks (shafts remarkably stiff) on breast; underside of tail dusky, each feather broadly tipped whitish, and with black sub terminally (can be striking if tail spread when alighting); much duller in worn plumage, with more diffuse streaking above, drab greyish tones below, flight-feathers sometimes bleached almost whitish (can be striking in flight), very ragged tail with no white tips; iris dull brown; bill of breeding male black, with black interior of mouth and dark grey facial skin, bill otherwise dark horn with paler lower mandible; legs brownish-flesh to pale fleshy, claws dark brown.. Sexes similar in plumage, male is larger than female.

Habitat: It is found in Lowland grassland with scattered bushes and tamarisk, in riverine plains, including drier margins of marshland; favours “elephant grass”, but occurs also in mixed grassland and reeds

Food Habits:

It eats small invertebrates, chiefly insects and their larvae, and small spider. Forages among reeds or tall grasses, threading its way with ease as it climbs through the vegetation, often descending to feed on ground.

Breeding Habits: They breed in May-Sept.  Male does an aerial display, performs gently undulating flight on wide zigzag or circular route over tops of reeds, with whirring wings, while repeatedly singing. Nest is a ball of dry grasses, entrance near the top, placed on or near ground in grass or scrubby bush. It lays a clutch of 4 – 5 eggs; incubation is done by female only for nearly 2 weeks.