There are over 500 species of birds reported from Karnataka. A large number of them are found in the Western Ghats and many are endemic to the region. We had written about the Endemic Birds of the Western Ghats – Part 1 earlier. This feature continues the series on the endemics of the Western Ghats.

Let’s start with the most recent and exciting discoveries!

The endemic Western Ghats shortwings aka Blue Robins are now called Sholicolas (genus), common name Sholakili – ‘Shola dweller’. Recent genetic studies have shown that these birds are not Shortwings, or even Robins. In fact, they are related to Cyornis Flycatchers. There are three geographically separated species, of which two feature here:

Nilgiri Sholakili (Sholicola major)

This species was earlier called Nilgiri Shortwing or Nilgiri Blue Robin, and is found north of the Palghat gap.

White-bellied Sholakili (Sholicola albiventris)

This species was earlier called White-bellied Shortwing or White-bellied Blue Robin, and is found between the south of Palghat and the north of Shencottah gap.

Nilgiri Pipit (Anthus nilghiriensis)

A richly coloured and heavily streaked pipit, it is endemic to the Western Ghats of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. It is locally common within its small range, particularly above 2,000 m. IUCN lists this species as Vulnerable because of its small, declining and severely fragmented range.

Malabar Barbet (Psilopogon malabaricus)

A colourful, small barbet, it was formerly known as the Crimson-fronted Barbet. Its range overlaps in some places with the Coppersmith Barbet and it has a similar but more rapid hammering call.

White-cheeked Barbet (Megalaima viridis)

The White-cheeked barbet is a common and highly vocal myna-sized green barbet of the Western Ghats. This bird is similar to the Brown-headed Barbet – with which it has some overlapping distribution – but has a distinctive supercilium and broader white stripe below the eye.

Grey-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus priocephalus)

This bulbul is endemic to the southwestern Western Ghats, from Goa to the south of Tamil Nadu. It has a distinctive call that reveals its presence in its preferred habitat of moist broad-leaved evergreen forest with bamboo and dense undergrowth.

Flame-throated Bulbul (Pycnonotus gularis)

This is an endemic bulbul of southwestern India, found in small flocks. It inhabits evergreen forests, lantana thickets (it particularly favours lantana berries) and bushes along rivers.

Yellow-browed Bulbul (Acritillas indica)

The Yellow-browed Bulbul is endemic to the forests of southern India and Sri Lanka. It is a bright yellow bird with an olive back and a distinct yellow brow.

Blyth’s Starling (Sturnia blythii)

Also known as the Malabar White-headed Starling, this endemic bird was previously considered a subspecies of the Chestnut-tailed Starling. It is characterised by a fully white hood and deep chestnut underparts.

Malabar Lark (Galerida malabarica)

Also known as the Malabar Crested Lark, this species is found along western India. It is a medium-sized lark with a prominent, spiky erectile crest, a solid deep-base and a fairly short tail. This bird is more partial to open, rocky plateaus.


Watch out for the final edition of the Western Ghats endemics series, which will feature laughing thrushes, Chilappans (erstwhile laughers), flycatchers and more.