• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Rufous Treepie - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by phbhanu
Bilasiya, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, 20 June 2007

Alternative name: Indian Treepie

Dendrocitta vagabunda


46 - 50cm.

  • Blackish hood and breast
  • Large whitish panel on wings, black primaries
  • Tawny brown underparts and lower back
  • Ginger brown mantle
  • Short, thick, downcurved black bill
  • Long bluish-grey tail with a black band on the tip
  • Rounded wings

Sexes similar. Juveniles have browner hood and back, a pale buff rump and underparts and a buff-tipped tail. They sometimes lack rufous tones.

Photo © by zweiblumen
Ranthambhore NP, Rajasthan, India, 8 November 2005

Similar species

All other treepies have mainly black wings.


Found from east Pakistan to India, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, adjacent southern China (SW Yunnan), Thailand, Cambodia, south Laos and south and central Vietnam.
Generally common and widespread in its range. Localized in Vietnam.



Although the geographical variation seems to be clinal nine subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • D. v. bristoli in northeastern Pakistan and northwest India to western Nepal
  • D. v. behni in western India (Rajasthan, western Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat south to Karnataka)
  • D. v. vagabunda in the lower Himalayas and northeast India (south to Hyderabad)
  • D. v. parvula in southwest India (south Kanara to Cape Comorin)
  • D. v. pallida in southeast India
  • D. v. sclateri in eastern Myanmar (upper Chindwin to Chin Hills and Arakan Yoma)
  • D. v. kinneari in southern Myanmar and northwest Thailand
  • D. v. saturatior in Tenasserim and southern Thailand
  • D. v. sakeratensis in eastern Thailand and Indochina
Photo © by ariban
Sagar Island, West Bengal, India, 22 June 2012


Open forest consisting of scrub, plantations and gardens. Also in city parks.
Mostly in lowlands but ascending as high as 2100m.


Usually seen in pairs or family groups. Follows other species (like Woodpeckers) and may ride on backs of domestic and wild large mammals, feeding on ectoparasites.


Omnivorous. It feeds on fruits, invertebrates, small reptiles and the eggs and young of birds.


Breeding season generally from March to July, depending to rains. The nest is a rather small flimsy cup made of twigs. It's placed 6 - 8m above the ground, often in an exposed and prominent tree. Lays 2 - 6 eggs.


A sedentary species.


Recording © by Alok Tewari
Harsh arrival calls of one individual/ call of subspecies D. v. bristoli
Bharatpur Keoladeo National Park, India, 24 July 2015

Recording © by Alok Tewari
Summer song of an individual singing in a large Ficus religiosa tree.
Residential apartment block with garden, Delhi, India, 2 April 2024, 4.06 pm.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2015. IOC World Bird Names (version 5.3). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  3. Dickinson, EC, ed. 2014. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. 4th ed. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0956861122
  4. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507
  5. Rasmussen, PC and JC Anderton. 2005. Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334672

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1