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White-crested laughingthrush (Garrulax leucolophus)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Superfamily: Sylvioidea
Family: Leiothrichidae
Swainson, 1832

Dozens; see article text

















Cladogram based on Cibois et al. 2018.[1]

The laughingthrushes are a family of Old World passerine birds. They are diverse in size and coloration. These are birds of tropical areas, with the greatest variety in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The entire family used to be included in the Timaliidae.


They are small to medium-sized birds. They have strong legs, and many are quite terrestrial. They typically have generalised bills, similar to those of a thrush. Most have predominantly brown plumage, with minimal difference between the sexes, but many more brightly coloured species also exist.[2]

This group is not strongly migratory, and most species have short rounded wings, and a weak flight. They live in lightly wooded or scrubland environments, ranging from swamp to near-desert. They are primarily insectivorous, although many will also take berries, and the larger species will even eat small lizards and other vertebrates.[2]


The family Leiothrichidae was introduced (as a subfamily Leiotrichanae) by the English naturalist William Swainson in 1832.[3] A comprehensive molecular phylogenetic study of the family published in 2018 led to substantial revision of the taxonomic classification.[1] The laughingthrushes in the genus Garrulax were found to belong to three separate clades that had diverged in the Miocene 7-9 million year ago. The genus was therefore split with Garrulax restricted to one clade and the genera Pterorhinus and Ianthocincla resurrected for the other two clades. The genus Turdoides was also split and species moved into the resurrected genus Argya.[1][4]

In a separate change, the crocias were moved to the genus Laniellus Swainson, 1832 which has priority over Crocias Temminck, 1836.[4][5][6]

List of genera[edit]

The family contains 133 species divided into 16 genera:[4]


  1. ^ a b c Cibois, A.; Gelang, M.; Alström, P.; Pasquet, E.; Fjeldså, J.; Ericson, P.G.P.; Olsson, U. (2018). "Comprehensive phylogeny of the laughingthrushes and allies (Aves, Leiothrichidae) and a proposal for a revised taxonomy". Zoologica Scripta. 47 (4): 428–440. doi:10.1111/zsc.12296.
  2. ^ a b Perrins, C. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 188–190. ISBN 1-85391-186-0.
  3. ^ Swainson, William John; Richardson, J. (1831). Fauna boreali-americana, or, The zoology of the northern parts of British America. Part 2. The Birds. London: J. Murray. p. 490. The title page bears the year 1831 but the volume did not appear until 1832.
  4. ^ a b c Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2019). "Laughingthrushes and allies". World Bird List Version 9.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  5. ^ Gregory, S.M.S.; Dickinson, E. (2012). "An assessment of three little‐noticed papers on avian nomenclature by G.N. Kashin during 1978‐1982". Zootaxa. 3340: 44-58 [51].
  6. ^ Dickinson, E.C.; Christidis, L., eds. (2014). The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: Passerines (4th ed.). Eastbourne, UK: Aves Press. p. 548. ISBN 978-0-9568611-2-2.

Further reading[edit]

  • Cibois, A. (2003). "Mitochondrial DNA phylogeny of babblers (Timaliidae)". Auk. 120: 35–54. doi:10.1642/0004-8038(2003)120[0035:MDPOBT]2.0.CO;2.
  • Collar, N. J., and C. Robson. 2007. Family Timaliidae (babblers). Pages 70–291 in J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, and D.A. Christie (editors), Handbook of the Birds of the World Volume 12: Picathartes to Tits and Chickadees. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  • Gelang, M., A. Cibois, E. Pasquet, U. Olsson, P. Alström and P.G.P. Ericson. 2009. Phylogeny of babblers (Aves, Passeriformes): major lineages, family limits and classification. Zoologica Scripta 38: 225–236.