The laughingthrushes are in the genera Garrulax, Montecincla and Trochalopteron of the Leiothrichidae family of passerine birds. They primarily occur in tropical Asia. These are rangy, medium-sized landbirds. These birds have strong legs and are quite terrestrial. This group is not strongly migratory, and most species have short rounded wings, and weak flight.
A few, like the streaked laughingthrush occur in fairly open habitats, but most are jungle species, difficult to observe in the dense vegetation they prefer.
These are noisy birds, and the characteristic laughing calls are often the best indication that these birds are present. They frequently occur in groups of up to a dozen, and the rainforest species like the ashy-headed laughingthrush often occur in the mixed feeding flocks typical of tropical Asian jungle.
Most molecular phylogeny studies, for example, used only the white-crested laughingthrush as an "example" of this "genus", because specimens were readily available. Morphological studies, on the other hand, had usually more material at their disposal, but these too were generally conducted under a false assumption of monophyly. A 2003 study, analyzing mtDNA cytochrome b and 12S/16S rRNA data of a number of laughingthrushes, did establish however that there is no such thing as a "representative" laughingthrush. Consequently most of the work regarding the evolution of this assemblage needs to be evaluated anew and if necessary even redone. Indeed, the taxon Garrulax would need to be restricted to the type species (rufous-fronted laughingthrush) and its closest relatives, but the species generally considered the most likely candidates have not been comprehensively studied in recent times.
- Cibois (2003)
- Cibois (2003), Pasquet et al. (2006)
- Cibois, Alice (2003a): Mitochondrial DNA Phylogeny of Babblers (Timaliidae). Auk 120(1): 1-20. DOI: 10.1642/0004-8038(2003)120[0035:MDPOBT]2.0.CO;2 HTML fulltext without images
- Collar, N.J. & Robson, Craig (2007): Family Timaliidae (Babblers). In: del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew & Christie, D.A. (eds.): Handbook of Birds of the World, Volume 12 (Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees): 70-291. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
- Pasquet, Eric; Bourdon, Estelle; Kalyakin, Mikhail V. & Cibois, Alice (2006). The fulvettas (Alcippe), Timaliidae, Aves): a polyphyletic group. Zoologica Scripta 35, 559–566. doi:10.1111/j.1463-6409.2006.00253.x (HTML abstract)
- Rasmussen, Pamela C. & Anderton, J.C. (2005): Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide. Smithsonian Institution and Lynx Edicions, Washington DC and Barcelona.
- Laughingthrush videos, photos and sounds - Internet Bird Collection