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Lesser Shortwing - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Brown Shortwing; Caroline's Shortwing (carolinae); Mrs La Touche's Shortwing (carolinae)

male subspecies wrayi
Photo © by wengchun
Malaysia, February 201
Brachypteryx leucophris


juvenile wrayi
Photo © by kctsang
Fraser's Hill, Malaysia, July 2006

11-13 cm.

  • Olive rufous-brown upperparts
  • Short white eyebrow (often concealed)
  • Very short tail and wings
  • Whitish underparts with brownish-buff breast and flanks
  • nipalensis has dull blue-grey upperparts and has dull blue-grey breast and flanks, females are rufous-tinged olive-brown above and have vague pale brown scaling on breast and flanks
  • carolinae looks similar to female nipalensis (both sexes) but is more rufous above
  • langbianensis like carolinae but male with supercilium grey at rear and extending farther towards forehead, grey breastband and flanks
  • wrayi is darker, the male has slaty-blue upperparts, breast and flanks, the rest of the underparts are white; female similar to carolinae but with warmer upperparts

Sexes similar but females have weaker white eyebrows and a paler bill bass. Juveniles are similar to adults but spotted.


female subspecies nipalensis
Photo © by firozhussain
Missimi Hills, Arunachal Pradesh, India, April 2015

From the Himalayas east to Burma, south China, Indochina, Thailand, peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Bali and in the Lesser Sundas (east to Timor).
Rare in western Himalayas, more common in eastern Himalayas, fairly common in Burma. Locally common in Thailand, uncommon in Malaysia. Locally common in Sumatra, Java and Bali.


Five subspecies recognized:


Montane forest with dense damp undergrowth, often near streams or in ravines.
Occurs mostly from 1500 to 2100 m. Often in dwarf bamboo in Vietnam. Winters in grassier, scrubbier habitat down to the lowlands (250 m).



Feeds mainly on insects. In Indonesia snails, slugs, grubs and beetle pupae.


Breeding season from April to July in the Himalayas, March to June in peninsular Malaysia and October to April in Java. The nest is a compact dome with a side entrance. It's made of bamboo, roots, moss and leaves and placed well camouflaged in the vegetation like an orchid clumb, dwarf bamboo or rattan, on or close to the ground.Lays 2 to 4 eggs. Sometimes parasitized by Large Hawk Cuckoo.


This is a resident species with some altitudinal movements in the Himalayas. Some local short-distance migration seems to be possible.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9., with updates to August 2014. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2015. IOC World Bird Names (version 5.2). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved July 2015)

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