Common Wood Shrike

Common WoodshrikeTephrodornispondicerianus


  • Tephrodornis : Greek word tephrodes – like ashes, ash-coloured; ornis – bird
  • Pondicerianus : From Pondicherry in India 

Vernacular Names: Hindi: Keroula, Tartituinya, DesiLatora, Sans: Aaranyalatushak, Pun: Jangalilatora, U.P: Tartituinya, Ben: Chudukka, Nepal: Tentha, Tenthaca, Guj: Kantnolatora, Nano vankashyom, Mar: Janglikhatik, Malabar rankhatik, Rankhatik, Te: Ulapitta, Mal: Asurattan, Kan: Kalinga 

Distribution in India: Widespread resident in India.


Size of 13–18 cm; Wt. of 18–27 g. The male ofnominate race has brownish-grey upperparts, including wings, with pronounced whitish supercilium, grey-brown lores, blackish-brown mask from around eye to ear-coverts; rump feathers with small white tips ,uppertail-coverts are black; rectrices blackish brown, outer two pairs are white with terminal blackish spot. The cheeks and chin are white; white throat and underparts, more pale ashy on breast ,axillaries and underwing-coverts are ashy grey. The iris is dull yellow; bill is dusky brown; legs are dusky grey. Thefemale is like male, but mask is slightly paler. The juvenile has upperparts browner and spotted whitish buff, especially on crown and nape, upperwing-coverts are broadly tipped whitish buff, pale and dark markings on tertials, sides of throat and breast are mottled dusky brown. The immature is like adult, but not fully described. The race pallidus is paler than nominate, more ashy grey above and creamy below; Race orientis is darker, dark brown-grey above, with white rumpband, strong white supercilium, darker malar area, strong brownish tinge below.


It is found in open dipterocarp forest, dry deciduous forest, second growth, bamboo forest, thorn scrub, scrub forest, woodland, orchards, Eucalyptus plantations, gardens, hedgerows, and dry open country with scattered trees . It is found from lowlands, mainly below 400 m, ascending locally to 1600 m.

Food habits:

It eats insects like beetles, adult and larval lepidopterans, grasshoppers, praying mantises ,bees, wasps,bugs, cicadas, spiders and some fruit. It occurs in pairs and small groups of 5–8 individuals; frequently joins mixed-species foraging parties, especially those with minivets and fantails It forages in treetops, searching diligently in bark crevices and beneath leaves; also sallies for flying insects, and sometimes takes prey on the ground.


They breed in Feb–Jul, in India. They are monogamous. The nestis built by both sexes over 4–5 days. The nest is a small neat, shallow cup of moss, lichen, bark or roots, bound with cobweb, lined with hair or vegetable down, placed in horizontal fork of tree branch above ground, concealed within dense foliage. They lay a clutch of 2-4 eggs, laid at 24-hour intervals. The incubation period is 14–16 days. The incubation is done by both sexes. The nestlings hatch blind and naked, and subsequently acquire dark grey down, provisioned by both sexes.