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A photo of a Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda)
Rufous Treepie

Rufous Treepie

Dendrocitta vagabunda

The Rufous Treepie, known scientifically as Dendrocitta vagabunda, is a striking bird native to the Indian Subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. It belongs to the Corvidae family, akin to crows. This bird is easily identified by its cinnamon-colored body, contrasting black head, and the long, bluish-grey tail with a black tip. The wings are adorned with a white patch, adding to its distinctive appearance.

Identification Tips

Both sexes of the Rufous Treepie are similar in plumage. The bird's bill is robust with a hooked tip, suitable for its varied diet. Observers should note the warm tawny-brown to orange-brown underparts and lower back, white wing coverts, and black primaries. The legs and feet are also black, completing its bold coloration.

Habitat

The Rufous Treepie is commonly found in a range of environments including open scrublands, agricultural areas, forests, and even urban gardens. Its adaptability allows it to thrive in various habitats.

Distribution

This species has a broad range, extending across Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand. It is known to migrate seasonally in the Garhwal Himalayas, moving between different elevations.

Behaviour

The Rufous Treepie is an arboreal omnivore, agile in its movements as it forages through the branches. It partakes in mixed hunting parties, often seen with drongos and babblers. This bird also engages in a cleaning symbiosis with deer, removing ectoparasites from sambar deer that allow it to perch on them.

Song & Calls

The Rufous Treepie has a varied vocal repertoire, but its most common calls include a bob-o-link or ko-tree sound. Local names for the bird, such as kotri, are derived from these distinctive calls.

Breeding

Breeding season for the Rufous Treepie in India is from April to June, with a peak in April and May. The bird constructs a shallow nest in trees and bushes, typically laying 3-5 eggs.

Similar Species

The Grey Treepie could be confused with the Rufous Treepie, but it lacks the bright rufous mantle that is characteristic of the latter.

Diet and Feeding

An omnivorous and opportunistic feeder, the Rufous Treepie's diet includes fruits, nectar, seeds, invertebrates, small reptiles, and the eggs and young of other birds. It also consumes flesh from carcasses and is known to cache food. The bird plays a beneficial role in palm cultivation by preying on the grubs of the weevil Rhynchophorus ferrugineus.

Conservation status

The Rufous Treepie is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that it is not at immediate risk of population decline.

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