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Himalayan Rubythroat

Calliope pectoralis

The Himalayan rubythroat, Calliope pectoralis, is a passerine bird of striking beauty, belonging to the family Muscicapidae. It is closely related to the Siberian rubythroat but can be distinguished by its white tail-tips and bases. The male is particularly resplendent with a slaty brown back, a white forehead, and a supercilium. Its wings are brownish, and the tail is blackish with white accents. The throat and breast are adorned with a black border and a vivid scarlet center. The female, in contrast, is more subdued in coloration, with a brownish grey back and smoky underparts.

Identification Tips

To identify the Himalayan rubythroat, look for the male's distinctive white forehead and supercilium, as well as the black sides of the throat and breast with a scarlet center. The female is less conspicuous but can be recognized by her diffuse supercilium and whitish throat center. The subspecies vary slightly in color intensity and facial patterns.


This species favors open woodlands and scrub habitats. It is adept at navigating the undergrowth where it can often be found foraging.


The Himalayan rubythroat's range extends along the Himalayas from Afghanistan to Myanmar. It is a migratory bird, ascending to higher altitudes in the summer and descending to lower elevations in the south during winter.


The Himalayan rubythroat is a rather shy bird, often seen alone or in pairs during the breeding season. It feeds primarily on small insects, including beetles and ants. The male's song is a complex series of squeaky notes, while the female emits a distinctive upward inflected whistle.

Song & Calls

The male's song is a varied series of squeaky notes, sung from an exposed perch. The female's call is an upward inflected whistle, and the species' alarm call is a sharp "skyap."


Breeding occurs in summer, with nests typically built in shrubs or sometimes on the ground. The female constructs the nest, which can be a loose ball with a side entrance or a cup shape with an open top. Clutches usually consist of 4 to 6 greenish blue eggs with rusty spots.

Similar Species

The Siberian rubythroat is similar but lacks the white tail-tips and bases. The Chinese rubythroat was once considered conspecific but has since been recognized as a separate species.

Diet and Feeding

The Himalayan rubythroat's diet consists mainly of small insects, which it forages from the ground or low vegetation.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List categorizes the Himalayan rubythroat as Least Concern, indicating a stable population without significant threats to its survival.

In summary, the Himalayan rubythroat is a jewel of the avian world, with its striking plumage and melodious song. Its presence adds a splash of color and music to the open woodlands and scrubs of the Himalayan region.

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Himalayan Rubythroats on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
Jeremie Berlioux
17 Jun 2023 - 8:54am

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