Gould’s Shortwing

Gould’s Shortwing   Heteroxenicus stellatus


  • Heteroxenicus: Greek word heteros- different; xenikos-
  • Stellatus : Latin word starry, starred, set with  stars”

Distribution in India: Resident and summer visitor of Himalayas in India.


Size of 12–13 cm; Wt. of 19–23 g. It is small and dark, with long legs, narrow tail. The nominate race is chestnut above, slaty below with very fine grey-and-black scaling. It has a black face, small white arrows or stars on belly, flanks and rump. The bill is blackish; legs are brown. Both the sexes are similar.  The juvenile is duller, with buffy-streaked rufous-tinged breast, rufous-tinged belly. Race fuscus is darker than nominate, slightly weaker chestnut above.


It is found in breeding season above tree-line in at 3300–4200 m in Himalayas. It winters in wooded valleys, boulder-strewn gullies and dank ravines with dense dwarf rhododendron, bamboo, fir and juniper, and with moss and fern undergrowth, down to 1500m

Food habits:

It eats Insects and seeds.  It is largely terrestrial.

Breeding habits:

 They breed in May–Jul in India.