Common woodshrike

   ›      ›   Common woodshrike - Tephrodornis pondicerianus

The common woodshrike (Tephrodornis pondicerianus) belongs to the family of philentomas and woodshrikes, Tephrodornithidae.

The common woodshrike species are distributed in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. This woodshrike species has a large head with a strong hooked beak. These woodshrikes are polytypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Common Woodshrike Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Common woodshrike - Overview

  • Scientific name: Tephrodornis pondicerianus
  • Species author: (Gmelin, 1789)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Muscicapa pondiceriana J. F. Gmelin, 1789
  • Family: Tephrodornithidae › Passeriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Common woodshrike, Chinese: 林鵙, French: Téphrodorne de Pondichéry, German: Indienvanga, Spanish: Ceniciento chico, Russian: Лесной личинкоед, Tamil: Kattu Keechaan
  • Other names: Common Woodshrike
  • Distribution: Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam
  • Diet and feeding habits: insects, beetles, grasshoppers, locust, cicadas, crickets, moths, butterflies, mantids, insect larvae
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Appearance, physical description and identification

The common woodshrike (Tephrodornis pondicerianus) is a medium-small woodshrike, measuring 15 to 20 cm in length and weighing 20 to 30 grams.

The common woodshrike species have dull grayish brown upperparts and wings. The crown and nape are pale grayish brown. The rump is white. The tail is short, square and dark brown and the outer feathers are white.

These woodshrike species have a broad pale whitish supercilium extending behind the eye. There is an indistinct facial-mask formed by blackish brown stripe from lores, below eye to ear-coverts.

The neck and breast are pale grayish brown to creamy brown. The belly and the remaining underparts are whitish. Both the sexes look alike, but the female is slightly duller. The juveniles have brown spotted buff upperparts.

The bill of the common woodshrike is dark brown and strongly hooked. The irises are pale brown to greenish brown. The legs are grayish brown. Their call is a well spaced plaintive "weet..weet" followed by piping "whi..whi..whi" sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Common woodshrike - Tephrodornis pondicerianus
1.Birds of India - Image of Common woodshrike - Tephrodornis pondicerianus by Shantanu Kuveskar


Birds of India - Photo of Common woodshrike - Tephrodornis pondicerianus
2.Indian birds - Picture of Common woodshrike - Tephrodornis pondicerianus by Lip Kee

Indian birds - Image of Common woodshrike - Tephrodornis pondicerianus
3.Birds of India - Photo of Common woodshrike - Tephrodornis pondicerianus by David Cook

Origin, geographical range and distribution

These common woodshrike species are distributed in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

In India, these woodshrike species are distributed in all the states except for deserts and thick evergreen forests.

The common woodshrike nominate subspecies T. p. pondicerianus is distributed in peninsular India, north, central, east and northeast India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand and Laos.

The woodshrike subspecies T. p. orientis is distributed in Cambodia and south Vietnam.

The subspecies T. p. pallidus is distributed in Pakistan and northwest India (Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand).

Ecosystem and habitat

These common woodshrike species have moderate forest dependence. These species normally occur in altitudes from 0 to 2000 meters.

The artificial ecosystems and habitats of these woodshrike species include agricultural fields, plantations, orchards, rural gardens and urban parks.

The natural ecosystems of these common woodshrike species include tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, tropical and subtropical dry forests, dry deciduous forests, dry savanna, tropical and subtropical dry shrublands and moist shrublands.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of common woodshrike consists mainly of insects. Small invertebrates, beetles, cicadas, crickets, grasshoppers, mantids, insect larvae, moths, termites and spiders are their primary food.

These species are arboreal and forage usually on the trees by gleaning insects from the foliage, branches and trunks of trees. They also occasionally feed on berries and also forage on the ground.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of the common woodshrike species is from February to July in Pakistan and northwest India. The laying season in central and peninsular India is from January to September with a peak in April and May.

These woodshrike species are monogamous. They usually nest on the bare fork of a tree branch. The nest is cup-shaped and made with plant fibers, barks and rootlets held by cobwebs. The nest is lined with soft plant fibers.

The clutch usually consists of three to five greenish gray spotted eggs. Both the parents take turns to incubate the eggs for 14 days. The hatchlings are entirely altricial, being blind and naked. Both the parents take care of the hatchlings.

Migration and movement patterns

These common woodshrike species are non-migratory resident birds. The birds in higher elevations come down to lower levels and plains during winter.

Post breeding, the juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the common woodshrike (Tephrodornis pondicerianus) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of these species is reported to be stable.

Throughout its range this woodshrike species is reported to be fairly common to common. The generation length is 3.9 years. Its distribution size is about 12,300,000

Deforestation, degradation and fragmentation of habitats are the main threats that may endanger the survival of these woodshrike species.

IUCN and CITES status

The common woodshrike (Tephrodornis pondicerianus) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable under the range size criterion or under the population trend criterion, or under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the woodshrike species and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for common woodshrike (Tephrodornis pondicerianus).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Tephrodornis pondicerianus
Species:T. pondicerianus
Binomial name:Tephrodornis pondicerianus
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The common woodshrike (Tephrodornis pondicerianus) is closely related to Sri Lanka woodshrike (Tephrodornis affinis).

The three recognized subspecies of common woodshrike (Tephrodornis pondicerianus) are: Tephrodornis pondicerianus pondicerianus (J. F. Gmelin, 1789), Tephrodornis pondicerianus pallidus Ticehurst, 1920 and Tephrodornis pondicerianus orientis Deignan, 1948.
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1.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Shantanu Kuveskar | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
2.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Lip Kee | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 9/17/17
3.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: David Cook | License: CC BY-NC 2.0 as on 9/17/17
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