Brachypteryx stellata (Heteroxenicus stellatus - per Rasmussen in BSA)
is also known as Chestnut Shortwing and has a "Nearly Mythical" status in our
birding world as it is so rarely observed.
Details: 13cms. Sexes alike.
Gould's Shortwing is one of the most widely distributed species of shortwings
in the world. The range of this species starts from Western Himalaya and
stretches all the way to Yunnnan in China. It has also been recorded from
Indochina, Mynamar and Vietnam. In India it known from Kedarnath and high
altitude places in Sikkim, Bhutan, Darjeeling, Eaglenest and Mishmi hills.
It is an altitudinal migrant.
Image: Sachin Rai
Breeding ground: Just below treeline (mossy branches with fallen trees) to
above treeline (Screes, Boulders)
Habitat in Wintering ground: Subtropical/tropical montane moist forest
and Gullies and high altitude shrubland marked by ravines with boulders and
Best place to see
this species in India: Gould's Shortwing was sighted frequently in western
Arunachal Pradesh between 3800-4350 m in the month of June 2009. It was
sighted by Per Alstrom and myself and we were able to see as many as 9
individuals. One bird was seen collecting nesting material at an elevation of
4300 m. We believe that the species not be as uncommon as it is thought to be.
We also believe birding at the high elevations (3500-4300 m) in the right
habitat in breeding season will yield more sightings of this species.
species was first described by John Gould in 1868 from Nepal.
There are 2 known subspecies which are supposed to have different
The known subspecies are Brachypteryx stellata stellata (Heteroxenicus
stellatus stellatus) which is known to occur in C & E Himalayas, further
east to NE Myanmar and S China (SE Xizang, Yunnan) while Brachypteryx
stellata fuscus (Heteroxenicus stellatus fuscus) is known to occur in in
the mountains of north Vietnam (north-western Tonkin).
This species is
recently placed back to its old monotypic genus.
Behaviour of this species is also unlike the other species of shortwings from
the Himalaya. Its is bold and very tame, prefers completely different habitat
from other shortwings. Also the song of this species is quite different from
other species along with distinctive plumage.
Status: Least concern due to extremely large range and stable population