Family Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Least Concern

Grey Treepie (Dendrocitta formosae)


French: Témia de Swinhoe German: Graubrust-Baumelster Spanish: Urraca gris

Dendrocitta sinensis var. formosae


, 1863,



Sometimes treated as conspecific with D. occipitalis and D. cinerascens. Races fall into two groups, W “himalayana group” with generally broad black forehead, darker throat, slightly larger white wing patch, and long tail with extensive grey on basal half of central rectrices, and E “formosae group”, marginally smaller, with slightly narrower forehead, browner throat, smaller wing patch and notably shorter, all-black tail (except in nominate, which has usually less extensive grey on central rectrices); difference in degree of whiteness of rump (less in W, more in E) not strong or constant, but groups nonetheless rather clear and more research needed, especially at boundary between them (e.g. name intermedia proposed for intermediates between assimilis and sinica in W Tonkin). Taiwan birds seem to have at least some vocalizations which differ from those of W populations; hardly any recordings available from mainland China, however, and impossible to determine whether vocal differences are a feature of Taiwan form formosae or of the wider E group. Isolated race sarkari often included in himalayana. Name himalayensis is a junior synonym of himalayana. Eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. f. occidentalis Ticehurst, 1925 – Himalayan foothills from Pakistan (Murree Hills) E through NW India to W Nepal.
  • D. f. himalayana Jerdon, 1864 – Western Grey Treepie – C Nepal E to NE India, N Myanmar, S China (S Yunnan), NW Thailand, N & C Laos and N Vietnam (S to N Annam).
  • D. f. sarkari Kinnear & Whistler, 1930 – Eastern Ghats (Odisha and N Andhra Pradesh), in E India.
  • D. f. assimilis A. O. Hume, 1877 – SW & E Myanmar and N Thailand.
  • D. f. sapiens (Deignan, 1955) – C China (WC Sichuan).
  • D. f. sinica Stresemann, 1913 – E & SE China and NE Tonkin (extreme N Vietnam).
  • D. f. formosae Swinhoe, 1863 – Eastern Grey Treepie – Taiwan.
  • D. f. insulae E. J. O. Hartert, 1910 – Hainan, in S China.
  • Descriptive notes

    36–40 cm; 89–121 g. Rather drab brownish-grey treepie with long, strongly graduated tail, central feather pair somewhat broadening towards tip, rather short bill... read more


    Advertising call, typical of most treepie species, a loud, ringing, almost metallic, stumbling... read more


    Deciduous montane woodland of all kinds, from tropical evergreen forest in foothills to oak-... read more

    Food and feeding

    Very similar to D. vagabunda. Omnivorous, but primarily carnivorous. Prey items include large variety of invertebrates and their... read more


    Season varies according to rains, generally Apr–Jul, but mostly May–Jun in N India and Myanmar. Solitary breeder. Nest built by... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally common and widespread throughout most of range; quite localized and uncommon towards W limits, e.g. in Pakistan and Kashmir. Although... read more

    Recommended citation

    Madge, S. (2020). Grey Treepie (Dendrocitta formosae). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 January 2020).