The White-Bellied Treepie (Dendrocitta leucogastra) is a most striking corvid (member of the crow family Corvidae) from among a group of South and Southeast Asian species known as the treepies. It is another bird largely restricted to the Western Ghats of South India. However, it is not strictly endemic to the mountain range, being seen in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh (a state lying on South India’s eastern seaboard).
A denizen of dense forests, the White-Bellied Treepie is an omnivore feeding on flowers, fruits, seeds, small reptiles, birds and mammals. It is categorized as a species of Least Concern. The genus Dendrocitta has a total of seven species, out of which five are found in South Asia. They are as follows:
- Grey Treepie (Dendrocitta formosae)
- Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda)
- Collared Treepie (Dendrocitta frontalis)
- White-bellied Treepie (Dendrocitta leucogastra)
- Andaman Treepie (Dendrocitta bayleyii)
The closely related Sumatran treepie (Dendrocitta occipitalis) and Bornean treepie (Dendrocitta cinerascens) are endemic to the islands of Sumatra and Borneo respectively. Members of this genus are highly arboreal and rarely come to the ground, a habit they share with treepies of closely related genera – Crypsirina, Temnurus and Platysmurus. Together, they comprise the subfamily Crypsirininae of the family Corvidae.
Image Attribution: The image above, sourced from Wikimedia Commons, is an illustration of a White-Bellied Treepie taken from the Transactions of the Zoological Society of London, 1835.