Family Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Least Concern

Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda)


French: Témia vagabonde German: Wanderbaumelster Spanish: Urraca vagabunda

Coracias vagabunda


, 1790,

Calcutta, India


Formerly known as D. rufa. Geographical variation clinal, races intergrading; some of listed races possibly of questionable validity. Investigations of type specimens revealed that name vernayi (hitherto used for SE Indian population, based on birds from Nallamalai Range, in S Kurnool) is a junior synonym of pallida; type locality of latter (originally given erroneously as W Himalayas) has been fixed to Chennai (in Tamil Nadu), and behni is a new name for W Indian population that formerly went under name pallida. Nine subspecies tentatively recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. v. bristoli Paynter, 1961 – E Pakistan (S to Karachi) and E in Himalayan foothills to N India (Dehra Dun, in Uttarakhand).
  • D. v. vagabunda (Latham, 1790) – Uttarakhand E to Bangladesh and NE India, S in peninsula to N Andhra Pradesh.
  • D. v. behni Steinheimer, 2009 – W & C India from S Gujarat (E Surat district) S to C Karnataka and E to mountain ridges of E Western Ghats.
  • D. v. parvula Whistler & Kinnear, 1932 – SW India (S Karnataka and Kerala).
  • D. v. pallida (Blyth, 1846) – SE India S from Eastern Ghats (S of R Godavari).
  • D. v. sclateri E. C. S. Baker, 1922 – W & N Myanmar.
  • D. v. kinneari E. C. S. Baker, 1922 – C & E Myanmar, S China (SW Yunnan) and NW Thailand.
  • D. v. saturatior Ticehurst, 1922 – S Myanmar and SW Thailand.
  • D. v. sakeratensis Gyldenstolpe, 1920 – C, E & SE Thailand, Cambodia, S Laos and C & S Vietnam.
  • Descriptive notes

    46–50 cm; 90–130 g. Distinctive large treepie with long, strongly graduated tail, central feather pair somewhat broadening towards tip, rather short bill with... read more


    Advertising call difficult to describe, but one of most familiar sounds of Indian countryside, a... read more


    Open deciduous woodland of all kinds, from dry forest to moist broadleaf woodlands. Open... read more

    Food and feeding

    Omnivorous, but primarily carnivorous. Recorded items include large variety of insects and their larvae, such as crickets and grasshoppers... read more


    Season varies according to rains, generally Mar–Jul, but mostly May–Jun in N India and Mar–Apr in S (Kerala). Solitary... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally common and widespread throughout most of range; quite localized and uncommon in E, e.g. in Vietnam. The treepie most likely to be... read more

    Recommended citation

    Madge, S. (2020). Rufous Treepie (Dendrocitta vagabunda). 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 20 February 2020).