The Nilgiris Laughing Thrush (also called Black chinned Laughing Thrush) is an endangered endemic bird found only in and around Nilgiris.
A noisy bird with a distinctive laughing call and striking features (black chin, sharp black beak, white brows, reddish brown feathers, etc), though relatively easier to hear (provided you are at the very few spots it is found at), is pretty tough to spot. It keeps mostly to thickets.. foraging for insects, fruits and nectar, esp at lower levels. And it moves alone most of the time, though other NLT’s might be foraging in the vicinity.
Photographing this bird is a real challenge, as it keeps moving inside the thickets rarely popping out to show its presence. Of course, as an exception, if you are at Doddabetta (Ooty).. it is much easier to spot and click this bird there… though not its true habitat. Easy food thrown by tourists has influenced this bird to turn bold so much that you can see them in the open… something I have seldom seen them do in other areas!
Places in Ooty where you can locate the NLT
- Doddabetta (of course, like I said, I feel this place is not its natural habitat).
- Potato research station, Muthorai
- Cairn hill forest reserve
A pitiful thing is, in spite of its endangered status, the forest department seems to be oblivious to its existence doing nothing at all to conserve it. The last time I was in Ooty, I had spoken to a few forest officers… none of them seemed to know anything at all about this bird, let alone its endangered status. In one case, at the Cairn hill forest, I spoke to a forest officer right beneath a board that carried a picture of the bird and its identification… and yet he knew nothing about this bird!