Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Abyssinian Ground-thrush (Geokichla piaggiae)


French: Grive de Piaggia German: Orangedrossel Spanish: Zorzal de Piaggia

Turdus piaggiæ


, 1877,

Uganda (M’Tésa’s country) = Lake Tana, northern Ethiopia


Considerable individual variation throughout range, and several races perhaps invalid; conversely, apparent morphological differences between populations at different elevations suggest that several species (with presumably rather more distinctive vocalizations) may be involved. Rufous-crowned form tanganjicae often treated as separate species, but no clear vocal differences identified; further study needed. Arrangement hereunder should be regarded as provisional. Birds of Mt Muhavura sometimes separated as race williamsi, but probably better merged into tanganjicae. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. p. tanganjicae (Sassi, 1914) – Kivu Ground-thrush – E DRCongo (E Kivu), SW Uganda (Kigezi, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Mt Muhavura), Rwanda and N Burundi.
  • G. p. hadii Macdonald, 1940 – S South Sudan (Imatong and Dongotona Mts).
  • G. p. piaggiae (Bouvier, 1877) – Abyssinian Ground-thrush – SE South Sudan (Boma Hills) and Ethiopia S to E DRCongo (S to Kahuzi and Itombwe Mts), E Uganda and N & W Kenya.
  • G. p. ruwenzorii (Prigogine, 1985) – Rwenzori Mts (W Uganda).
  • G. p. kilimensis (Neumann, 1900) – C & S Kenya and N Tanzania (Mt Kilimanjaro).
  • G. p. rowei C. H. B. Grant & Mackworth-Praed, 1937 – extreme S Kenya (Nguruman Hills) and N Tanzania.
  • Descriptive notes

    19–20 cm; 43–65 g. Nominate race is pale olive-brown from cheeks to hindcrown and upperparts, with darker wing-coverts, double white-spotted wingbars; dull rufous... read more


    Song, typically from low concealed perch in deep twilight, a series of well-spaced, tuneful phrases... read more


    Primary montane forest, normally at 2000–3000 m, but 1700–3600 m on Mt Kilimanjaro (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates and fruit. Diet includes insects and their eggs and larvae (grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, hymenopterans), earthworms,... read more


    Mainly during rains: Feb–May and Sept in Ethiopia, May in Sudan; Apr and Oct in DRCongo, Apr–Jun and Oct–Jan in Rwanda,... read more


    Resident, with limited altitudinal movements; suggested that race tanganjicae moves from... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Scarce to locally common; uncommon in Sudan. In Kenya, density in primary forest 0·6 birds/ha, in coniferous plantations 0·07 birds/ha. Race ... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2020). Abyssinian Ground-thrush (Geokichla piaggiae). 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 28 February 2020).