White-bellied Treepie

White-bellied Treepie  Dendrocitta leucogastra


  • Dendrocitta : Greek word Dendron- tree; kitta – magpie.
  • Leucogastra : Greek word Leuco – White ; Gaster – Belly, Stomach   { White- bellied}

Vernacular Names:  Hindi: Safed pet mahlat, Sans: Shvet-udarkrushakut, Mar: Pandhryapota chatakkachor, Te: Neelavalkakka, Mal:Katunali

Distribution in India: Resident of Western Ghats in India.

Description: Size of 45 cm; wt. of 125 g. It is white in plumage. It has long and strongly graduated tail, central pair of feathers somewhat broadening towards tip. It has rather stout bill with strong curve on culmen and cutting edges. Most of crown, side of head, throat and upper breast are black, while the rear crown, nape, hindneck and most of underparts below breast are strikingly white. The feathered portion of tibia is black, undertail-coverts are chestnut; mantle, back and scapulars are chestnut-brown, rump and uppertail-coverts are white; upperwing  is black, white patch at base of primaries; central tail feathers light are silvery grey with wide black terminal band, rest of tail is black; iris is red or reddish-brown; bill and legs are blackish-grey. Both the sexes are similar. The juvenile has buffy fringes of body feathers and tertials, and narrower central tail feathers. The first-year aged retains worn juvenile primaries and retained narrower tail feathers.

Habitat: It is found in humid evergreen hill forests, both primary and relict patches within secondary forests; especially sholas with cardamom plantations, overgrown abandoned rubber plantations, large roadside trees and so on. It is found from foothills to mountain forest-line, from 60 m to 1500 m.

Food habits: It is omnivorous, primarily carnivorous. Prey items include variety of invertebrates and their larvae, also small vertebrates such as small lizards and rodents, and eggs and nestlings of small birds. It eats flower nectar and a variety of fruits and seeds. It is found in pairs or family parties,often with mixed foraging parties of other forest birds, particularly Greater Racquet-tailed Drongos. When associating with these mixed flocks, it readily comes down to bushy undergrowth, and more rarely descends to ground..

Breeding habits: They breed in Feb–Apr in India. They are solitary breeders. The nest  is a deep construction of prickly twigs, cup lined with smaller twigs, rootlets and other soft plant material, well hidden inside canopy of large forest tree or tall shrub, generally well away from human habitation. They lay a clutch of 3- 4 eggs.