Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Black-headed Nightingale-thrush (Catharus mexicanus)


French: Grive à tête noire German: Schwarzkopf-Musendrossel Spanish: Zorzalito cabecinegro

Mal[acocichla]. mexicana


, 1856,

Jalapa, Veracruz, Mexico


Proposed taxon fumosus apparently based on hybrid between present species and C. fuscater. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. m. mexicanus (Bonaparte, 1856) – EC Mexico.
  • C. m. cantator Griscom, 1930 – S Mexico E to E Guatemala.
  • C. m. yaegeri A. R. Phillips, 1991 – Honduras.
  • C. m. carrikeri A. R. Phillips, 1991 – Nicaragua, Costa Rica and W Panama.
  • Descriptive notes

    15–16·5 cm; 30 g. Male nominate race has black crown, olive-brown upperparts, dark grey face, vaguely dark-streaked white throat, pale greyish-brown breast and flanks,... read more


    Song, by male 1–3 m up in shrub, mostly at dawn and dusk and in afternoon, a series of rapid... read more


    Dense dark undergrowth of primary humid evergreen forest (cloudforest) and adjacent second growth... read more

    Food and feeding

    Beetles, caterpillars and other insects; also much fruit, such as Psychotria and Cephaelis. Forages on or near ground,... read more


    Apr–May in Mexico and Mar–Jul in Costa Rica. Highly site-faithful. Nest a substantial but neat cup of mosses, bark strips and/... read more


    In Mexico, far N populations may move S for period Oct–Mar; post-breeding altitudinal descent... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common. Common in Oaxaca, in S Mexico; report from Mexico City erroneous. Fairly common in Honduras. In Costa Rica, common in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2020). Black-headed Nightingale-thrush (Catharus mexicanus). 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 January 2020).