I’ve covered the Treepies which include the generas Dendrocitta, Crypsirina, Temnurus and Platysmurus.  They all have long tails and live high in the trees, preferring to stay up high and not visiting the ground much. There are 11 species within these generas.

  1. Grey Treepie, Dendrocitta formosae
  2. Rufous Treepie, Dendrocitta vagabunda
  3. Black-faced Treepie, or Collared Treepie, Dendrocitta frontalis
  4. Sumatran Treepie, Dendrocitta occipitalis
  5. Bornean Treepie, Dendrocitta cinerascens
  6. White-bellied Treepie, Dendrocitta leucogastra
  7. Andaman Treepie, Dendrocitta bayleyi
  8. Black Racket-tailed Treepie, Crypsirina temia (formerly Dendrocitta)
  9. Hooded Treepie, Crypsirina cucullata
  10. Ratchet-tailed Treepie, Temnurus temnurus
  11. Black Magpie Platysmurus leucopterus

They are mostly found in Asia and India. They are beautiful with their long tails and elusive. Many are threatened or near threatened and endemic to particular regions.

Hooded Treepie (Crypsirina cucullata)

The Hooded Treepie (Crypsirina cucullata) is a species of bird in the Corvidae family. It is endemic to Burma.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical dry shrubland. It is threatened by habitat loss.

It has grey plumage apart from black head, tail and flight feathers.

(Source: wikipedia)

Rufous Treepie

The Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda) is an Asian treepie, a member of the Corvidae (crow) family.


It is slightly smaller than the European Magpie (Pica pica) and has somewhat shorter, more rounded wings and a proportionately longer tail. The bill is shorter and thicker too, and slightly downcurved, and the legs are shorter. The head, neck and breast are a deep slate-grey colour, sometimes slightly brownish.

The underparts and lower back are a warm tawny-brown to orange-brown in colour with white wing coverts and black primaries. The tail is a light bluish-grey with a thick black band on the tip. The bill, legs and feet are black.

The range of this species is quite large, covering all of India up to the Himalayas, and southeasterly in a broad band into Burma (Myanmar), Laos, and Thailand in open forest consisting of scrub, plantations and gardens.

This is a typically arboreal species feeding almost completely in trees on fruits, invertebrates, small reptiles and the eggs and young of birds; it has also been known to take flesh from recently killed carcasses. It is extremely agile while searching for food, clinging and clambering through the branches and will sometimes travel in small mixed hunting parties with unrelated species such as drongos and babblers.

The nest is built in trees and bushes and is usually quite shallow. There are usually 3-5 eggs laid.

This species has a variety of calls, but a bob-o-link call is the commonest along with a variety of harsh calls.


Grey Treepie

live on wire

Originally uploaded by Shenghung Lin

The Grey Treepie, also known as the Himalayan Treepie, (Dendrocitta formosae) is an Asian treepie, a medium sized perching bird of the Corvidae (crow) family.

It is about the size of the Eurasian Jay or slightly smaller with a jet black stripe above the eyes and a sooty black face. The rest of the neck and breast is a sooty grey becoming paler towards the lower belly and rump and the top of the head and nape are silvery-grey. The wing primaries are black with a white spot near the base at the wing coverts, and the tail is relatively short and also black, as are bill, legs and feet.

This bird covers quite a large geographical area and consequently has several recognised regional forms that differ slightly from one another for instance in colour and tail length.

It ranges from north eastern India, Nepal, Assam, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, southern China, Taiwan (to which the nominate subspecies is endemic to) and Indochina. Forests and wooded hills or mountains are its usual haunt, and it is quite often found in areas of hill terrace cultivation.

This treepie is mostly an arboreal feeder but will take some food from the ground especially in cultivated regions. A wide range of insects and other invertebrates are taken including berries, nectar, grain and other seeds and also small reptiles, eggs and nestlings. It sometimes travels in feeding parties with Laughingthrushes (Garrulax species).

The nest is quite shallow and lightly built in trees and bushes or clumps of bamboo with 3-4 eggs per clutch.

The voice is described as harsh and grating, but like other species is quite varied and includes a grating k-r-r-r-r sound as well as more melodious notes.


Bornean Treepie (Dendrocitta cinerascens)

The Bornean Treepie (Dendrocitta cinerascens) is a passerine bird belonging to the Dendrocitta genus of treepies in the crow family, Corvidae. It is endemic to the island of Borneo in South-east Asia. It is sometimes treated as a subspecies of the Sumatran Treepie (D. occipitalis).


It is a fairly large bird, 40 centimetres in length, with a long graduated tail, broad rounded wings and short weak legs. The underparts are pinkish-brown. The head is also pinkish-brown with a pale silver crown and a dark stripe over the eye and across the forehead. The back is greyish and the rump is pale. The wings are black with a white patch and the tail is grey with black tips to the feathers. The bill and legs are grey-black and the eyes are reddish. The Sumatran Treepie differs in having a pale brown back, a dark brown head with a white nape and a thinner bill.

The Bornean Treepie is a noisy bird with a variety of loud, explosive calls including a bell-like whistle and various grunting and chattering calls. It is able to mimic the calls of other birds.


It is fairly common in most mountain ranges in the northern and central parts of Borneo. It mainly occurs between 300 and 2,800 metres above sea-level, being most common in valleys and foothills at the lower end of that range. It inhabits forest, forest edge, bamboo thickets and scrubland and is sometimes seen in cultivated areas. It forages in the tree canopy, alone or in small groups, searching for small fruit, seeds and large insects such as beetles and cockroaches. It can become tame, visiting villages to feed on scraps.

Little is known about its breeding habits. The nest is shallow, built of fine twigs and placed in a low tree. The eggs are greenish-white with brown markings concentrated in a ring at the wider end.


White-Bellied Treepie

White-Bellied Treepie

Originally uploaded by AnoopAA

The White-bellied Treepie (Dendrocitta leucogastra) is a bird of the crow family endemic to the forests of southern India.


The white of the head and body separate it from the sympatric Rufous Treepie. This tends to be found in more dense forest and is less associated with humans than the Rufous Treepie.

The species is often seen bowing and lowering its wings as it calls. Several birds may arrive at one tree and call repeatedly during the pre-monsoon breeding season (April-May). The nest is a platform of twigs on a medium sized tree. Three eggs are laid, ashy grey with green and grey blotches.

It is associated with mixed-species foraging flocks and is often associated with Greater Racket-tailed Drongos.


It is found in the forests of the Western Ghats south of Goa. A record from Erimalai near Dharmapuri marks the eastern limit of the species in southern India. It has been reported from the Surat Dangs and the southeastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh while a record from central India has been questioned.

The Revered, Reviled Crow Clan by Howard Youth

I read an excellent article about corvids from their habitat to myths and legends about them in the May/June 2001 issue of Zoogoer. I think it is worth the read. Here is an excerpt:

For centuries, a dark specter haunted the bloody battlefields of Europe. Waiting to feast on the dead, common ravens lined up at bloody clashes between invaders and invaded, tribes and kingdoms. War-weary observers could not ignore the jet-black scavengers, with their four-foot-wide wingspreads and cross-shaped flight profiles. Ravens, not surprisingly, were branded harbingers of bad luck, or death.

Away from the carnage, common ravens (Corvus corax) also coasted into folklore, legend, and language, strongly hinting that these creatures and their 100-plus brethren in the family Corvidae are not your average birds. Two ravens, Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory), rode the broad shoulders of the Norse god Odin. In Inuit legend, the raven became creator and trickster. In the Bible, Noah sent not only a dove but also a raven to seek land, as did many ancient mariners. Tame ravens still stroll within the Tower of London’s walls, where for centuries they’ve been sequestered as guardians against invasion.

One reason why ravens, crows, jackdaws, rooks, magpies, treepies, choughs, nutcrackers, and jays stand out is that they have above-average brains—proportionately, they possess the largest cerebral hemispheres of the feathered set. Plucky, crafty, curious, social, vocal, and adaptable, corvids, as family members are known, are among our most familiar yet enigmatic neighbors. On all continents save Antarctica, they flourish in backyards and wilderness, although more than 20 species barely hang on within shrinking habitats. Ethiopia’s thick-billed raven (Corvus crassirostris), bigger than a red-tailed hawk, is the world’s largest songbird, while the dun-colored Hume’s ground-jay (Pseudopodoces humilis) of the Tibetan plains is the smallest family member. In between lies a broad spectrum of glossy, splashy, and plume-tailed characters.

You can read the rest of the article here.