Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Malabar Whistling Thrush

Early in the morning in Wayanad, I heard somebody whistling.  Not a particularly merry tune or a fast tune, and not the same tune each time, but a random pattern of notes going up and down the scale - like somebody whistling while walking up and down with no specific agenda.  A happy person, I thought.  Perhaps the security guard or one of the people who work at the resort.  And why not, to live and work in a place like this....

But the song went on from 6 to 7 30 am.   It then hit me that it was a bird.  I called my avian-encyclopaedia friend  (AEF) to ask her what bird it is, but she didn't answer my call.  Must be deep in some forest herself, I thought....

I came back and tried to google, but didn't find anything.  Thankfully, AEF called soon and set my mind at rest.  The moment I said, "a bird whistling like a human", she said, "Aah, the Malabar Whistling Thrush.  Did it sound like this?" and she whistled it for me.  And yes, that was it.

I looked it up and found that the common  name for it is the Whistling Schoolboy or Idle Schoolboy - both of which are such perfect descriptions!
The song
Another sample
A longer one.

It was one of the most beautiful songs I have heard.  By itself the whistle is fascinating, but imagine sitting in that greenery and silence early in the morning, and amidst the sharper and quicker chirping of a thousand birds, somewhere in the background you hear this vague, haunting sound.........

I told you I am on the verge of bird mania.  Now all I need is a good pair of binoculars and a holiday in the jungle with AEF. :)


CC said...

I think I may know who this AEF is!!!! Hahhahahaaa If it is who I think it is...I can hear the conversation between you two! especially AEF excitedly doing the Malabar Whistling Thrush imitation :)))) The birds on that telephone wire would have loved it ;-)

Shruthi said...

CC, of course it is the one and only AEF :)))

Lol at birds on telephone wire! :)))

Radhika said...

That's lovely music! Thanks for the links.

Shivam said...

You write as if you are drawing a beautiful painting, creating scenes where you take reader to your own world.
I could just imagine you walking around the resort or just sitting near the window, listening to the Bird Whistling.
thanks for the post

Shruthi said...

Radhika, glad you enjoyed it!

Shivam, I'm so pleased that you feel that way, thanks. :)

M S Raghunandan said...

i first heard the whistling thrush about ten years back when i was on my morning jog on the out skirts of Ponda. the sound came from behind the bushes on the hill slopes and i thought that it was one of the labourers out there to answer his nature call! later i came to know about the whistling school boy from my son akshay. few of them were there around our flat too and once we even managed to spot one and get a picture. they are supposed to be very shy birds. this season i have heard the whistle only thrice, on a stretch of road both sides of which there is still some vegetation. it is as if the bird is watching you. you keep hearing the whistle up to a distance of about hundred meters from the source of sound and as you go near in the hope of seeing the bird, the sound stops abruptly. i agree that it is one of the most beautiful sounds of nature. nice of you to have noted and written about it shruti.

Shruthi said...

Wow, thanks for telling us your experience, Raghu mama!

Anonymous said...

You have an innate ability to create a hunger to learn more about the things we normally take for granted.
Be it books, trees,birds....
I enjoy your writing very much. Neela

Shruthi said...

Neela, I am so glad that my writing induces in you an urge to learn more!

bellur said...

shruthi,i heard all three versions closing my eyes. hearing them, what i visualised (sitting at home) was -

1. The song
young man whistling while shaving!

2. Another sample
teenaged guy whistling while packing his clothes!

3. A longer one - middle aged man whistling dyeing his hair and turning his head left and right to check if the dye is fine!

thanks for letting us know about the 'Whistling Schoolboy'. hats off to the person who thought of this name!

Shruthi said...

Bellur, Trust you to come up with something like this! :)

nativeplace gardener said...

Beautifully described Shruti. I first heard the Malabar Whistling Thrush only this June at Native Place Kamshet. We are always excited to discover a new bird at Native Place and this vocal creature sure creates a stir

nativeplace gardener said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Exact same experience as Shruti the author of this post.
We reached our destination in the middle of the Periyar Forest, just yesterday in the late morning hours, and after a walk by the stream sat down in the forest bungalow. Observing the forest atmosphere and listening to the forest sounds. The most prominent of all a whistling tune repeating so frequently. Initially creating an impression of a cardamom labour whistling while doing his chores. But how long will he continuously whistle, it kept on going. That's when we thought it must be a bird. When we met our naturalist he confirmed it to be the whistling trush.
We spent the full day and the night there. In the afternoon it slowed down a bit with the frequency and the loudness coming down. Evening, at the sunset all birds come in to fill in the sound, the last calls of the day. The whole space is filled with their sounds. The whistling sound comes back and sometimes you hear a back and forth between two or three birds spread across the acres. Surprisingly the birds sounds went on for an hour to hour and a half till the night silences out with only the sounds of cricket, other insects and frogs coming through the night.
In the morning just before the sunrise the birds begin again. The whistling sound comes back again loud and clear with back and forth amongst their gang. The sound of the trush was definitely the highlight.
Coming from city life of Mumbai this is 'one of' experience in the lifetime. Nature always leaves an everlasting impression.
After reading Shruti's post felt like sharing my fresh experience.

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