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Broad-tailed Grassbird

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Cladus: Avemetatarsalia
Cladus: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauriformes
Cladus: Dracohors
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Eusaurischia
Subordo: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Cladus: Averostra
Cladus: Tetanurae
Cladus: Avetheropoda
Cladus: Coelurosauria
Cladus: Tyrannoraptora
Cladus: Maniraptoromorpha
Cladus: Maniraptoriformes
Cladus: Maniraptora
Cladus: Pennaraptora
Cladus: Paraves
Cladus: Eumaniraptora
Cladus: Avialae
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Neognathae
Cladus: Neoaves
Cladus: Telluraves
Cladus: Australaves
Ordo: Passeriformes
Subordo: Passeri
Infraordo: Passerida
Superfamilia: Sylvioidea

Familia: Locustellidae
Genus: Schoenicola
Species: Schoenicola platyurus

Schoenicola platyurus (Jerdon, 1841)


Thimalia platyura (protonym)
Schoenicola platyura


Jerdon, T.C. 1844. Supplement to the Catalogue of the Birds of the Peninsula of India. Madras Journal of Literature and Science 13 no.30: 156–174 BHL Reference page. p. 170 BHL book [1841] p. 199
Dickinson E.C. et al., 2004. "The dating of names proposed in the first Supplement to Thomas Jerdon's Catalogue of the birds of the Peninsula of India.", Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 61(4): 214–224 PDF.


IUCN: Schoenicola platyurus (Vulnerable)

Vernacular names
Cymraeg: Telor gwair cynffonlydan
English: Broad-tailed Grassbird
Esperanto: Barata larĝvostulo
español: yerbera coliancha
suomi: Viuhkakerttunen
മലയാളം: പോതക്കിളി
Nederlands: Breedstaartzanger
svenska: Indisk gräsfågel

The broad-tailed grassbird (Schoenicola platyurus) is a species of Old World warbler in the family Locustellidae. It is endemic to the Western Ghats of India with a possibility of occurrence in Sri Lanka. A small, mostly brown bird, it has a broad rounded and graduated tail. It is found only on the higher altitude grassy hills where it usually skulks, except during the breeding season when males fly up into the air to sing in their display. The species is believed to be a resident although it is possible that they make local movements.


The uniform brown upperparts with a broad, round-tipped and long graduated tail are distinctive features of this bird. The species has a buff supercilium and the brown tail has thin dark bars. The underside of the tail is very dark and the feathers are tipped with white. Males and females are indistinguishable in plumage. The call of the male during breeding is a lark-like and repeated trill that is accompanied by fanned tail and a fluttering flight. Other calls include a chack and a zink note. The gape colour is black and visible in singing males but is brown in females.[2][3][4] In the non-breeding season, it is a skulker moving rapidly between grass and reeds but sometimes perching in the open.[5][6][7]
Taxonomy and systematics
Head showing the short bill and the two rictal bristles

The species has in former times included the African Schoenicola brevirostris, which was originally called Catriscus apicalis and later Schoenicola platyura brevirostris. The Indian species was first described by Jerdon who found the bird at the base of the Gudalur ghat in the foothills of the Nilgiris.[8] The bill is short and strong with the culmen slightly curved, and there are two rictal bristles. The tarsus is somewhat long for the proportions. The populations north and south of the Palghat gap are said to differ in plumage shade: the northern form being larger, paler and greyer above with the flanks sandy-brown; the southern form is dark rufous brown above and more whitish below with bright buff on the breast and flanks. This plumage variation was earlier believed to be seasonal.[3][9][10][11] Molecular phylogeny studies place the genus in the warbler subfamily Megalurinae (along with Megalurus, Chaetornis and Graminicola).[12][13][14] A study of the group shows that the African S. brevirostris and S. platyurus are not closely related and that S. platyurus is a sister of Chaetornis striata.[15]

The broad-tailed grassbird is restricted to grassy moist highlands, principally in the Western Ghats of southern India mainly south of Karnataka but with some records from Pune, Lonavala and Nasik.[16] A specimen was collected by S. A. Hussain at Point Calimere that suggests that the bird may be involved in local movements or migrations, possibly into Sri Lanka.[17] Suggestions that it may occur in Sri Lanka are as yet not well supported; there is an old specimen (collected by H. Cumming, who has been considered unreliable,[10] and doubtfully identified by Colonel Legge[2]) and two unconfirmed sight records from Gammaduwa, Matale Hills, and Waitalawa, Rangala Hills.[6][18] The species has not been reported from the Biligirirangan Hills.[19]
Behaviour and ecology

The breeding season appears to be from March to May, but nests have been seen in July and September, so the raising of two broods is suspected. The nest is a ball of coarse grass blades with an entrance on the side and placed low in a tussock of long grass. The eggs are white with spots and blotches of brownish red. The usual clutch is 2 or 3 eggs. It feeds on insects.[2][18][20]

BirdLife International (2016). "Schoenicola platyurus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22715577A94459789. Retrieved 6 October 2021.
Hume, AO (1880). "Schoenicola platyurus". Stray Feathers. 9: 260–264.
Oates, EW (1889). The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Vol. 1. Taylor and Francis, London. pp. 384–385.
Raman ,T. R. S. (1998). "Observations on the vocalizations and display of the Broadtailed Grass Warbler (Schoenicola platyura) (Jerdon)". Newsletter for Birdwatchers. 38 (1): 6.
Brooks, WE (1880). "A few remarks on Schoenicola platyura". Stray Feathers. 9: 209–212.
Collar, NJ; AV Andreev; S Chan; MJ Crosby; S Subramanya; JA Tobias, eds. (2001). Threatened Birds of Asia (PDF). BirdLife International. pp. 2195–2199.
Sharpe, RB (1883). Catalogue of the birds in the British Museum. Volume 7. Cichlomorphae Part 4. Timeliidae. British Museum. p. 110.
Jerdon TC (1863). The birds of India. Volume 2 part 1. The Military Orphan Press, Calcutta. p. 73.
Baker, ECS (1924). The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Birds. Vol. 2 (2nd ed.). Taylor and Francis, London. pp. 437–438.
Rasmussen PC; JC Anderton (2005). Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Volume 2. Smithsonian Institution & Lynx Edicions. p. 516.
Sharpe,R Bowdler (1882). "A note on the genera Schoenicola and Catriscus [Reprinted from the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1881]". Stray Feathers. 10 (4): 254–256.
Alström, Per; et al. (February 2006). "Phylogeny and classification of the avian superfamily Sylvioidea". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 38 (2): 381–397. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2005.05.015. ISSN 1055-7903. PMID 16054402.
Beresford, P.; Barker, F.K.; Ryan, P.G.; Crowe, T.M. (2005). "African endemics span the tree of songbirds (Passeri): molecular systematics of several evolutionary 'enigmas'". Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 272 (1565): 849–858. doi:10.1098/rspb.2004.2997. PMC 1599865. PMID 15888418.
Drovetski, S. V.; Zink, R. M.; Fadeev I. V.; Nesterov; E. V.; Koblik E. A.; Red’kin, Y. A. & Rohwer, S. (2004). "Mitochondrial phylogeny of Locustella and related genera" (PDF). J. Avian Biol. 35 (2): 105–110. doi:10.1111/j.0908-8857.2004.03217.x. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 June 2010.
Alström, Per; Cibois, Alice; Irestedt, Martin; Zuccon, Dario; Gelang, Magnus; Fjeldså, Jon; Andersen, Michael J.; Moyle, Robert G.; Pasquet, Eric (2018). "Comprehensive molecular phylogeny of the grassbirds and allies (Locustellidae) reveals extensive non-monophyly of traditional genera, and a proposal for a new classification". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 127: 367–375. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2018.03.029. ISSN 1055-7903. PMID 29625229.
Raha, B. Sarda; R. Mistry, V.K. (2007). "Broad-tailed Grass-warbler Schoenicola platyura in Nashik, Maharashtra". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 104 (1): 93.
Hussain,SA (1976). "Occurrence of the Broadtailed Grass Warbler Schoenicola platyura (Jerdon)] on the Coromandel coast". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 73 (2): 400–401.
Ali, S; S D Ripley (1997). Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan. Vol. 8 (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 91–92. ISBN 0-19-562063-1.
Srinivasan, U.; Prashanth, N.S. (2006). "Preferential routes of bird dispersal to the Western Ghats in India: An explanation for the avifaunal peculiarities of the Biligirirangan Hills". Indian Birds. 2 (4): 114–119.
Hume, AO (1889). The nests and eggs of Indian birds. Vol. 1 (2nd ed.). R H Porter. pp. 251–252.

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