Family Quail-thrushes and Jewel-babblers (Cinclosomatidae)

Least Concern

Chestnut Quail-thrush (Cinclosoma castanotum)


French: Cinclosome marron German: Rotrückenflöter Spanish: Zordala castaña
Other common names: Chestnut-backed Quail-thrush

[Cinclosoma] castanotus


, 1840,

Belts of the Murray, South Australia, Australia


Sister to the arid-zone taxa C. castaneothorax, C. marginatum, C. cinnamomeum and C. alisteri, based on genetic study#R. Recent move to separate clarum (with fordianum) as a species is based on mtDNA distance (4.38%) and plumage characters (more extensive and paler red-brown on back to rump and tertials: score 3)#R, but the plumage characters apply only to clarum, while race fordianum is described as “very similar to nominate”#R; moreover, no morphometric differences exist#R, no vocal differences are known, and proposers of split are still working on “sampling more loci and localities where the birds occur across the broad region of the Eyrean Barrier”#R. Proposed races mayri (SC New South Wales) and morgani (Eyre Peninsula, in South Australia) indistinguishable from nominate; dundasi (SW Western Australia) is an intergrade between clarum and fordianum. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. c. clarum Morgan, 1926 – Copperback Quail-thrush – SC Western Australia, SW & SC Northern Territory and W South Australia.
  • C. c. fordianum Schodde & Mason, 1999 – S Western Australia and SW South Australia.
  • C. c. castanotum Gould, 1840 – Chestnut Quail-thrush – SE South Australia, SW & C New South Wales and NW Victoria.
  • Descriptive notes

    21–26 cm; 73–83 g. Male nominate race has long narrow white super­cilium from above lores back to side of nape, narrow black stripe from lores to side of... read more


    Song of tremulous, repetitive, monotone whistles, soft but carrying, sometimes blending into a... read more


    Mallee with low scrubby undergrowth and other scrublands, e.g. acacia (Acacia) and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, particularly beetles (Coleoptera), bugs (Hemiptera) and orthopterans; also seeds; items usually 1­-2 mm long, but up to 6... read more


    Season Mar–Dec, in SE of range usually Aug–Dec, more variable in N, somewhat dependent on rains; may be double-brooded. Nest a... read more


    Sedentary, but in more arid areas may be nomadic to varying extents; increase in numbers noted... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally fairly common; E populations (nominate race) considered “Near-threatened”. Modification and loss of habitat, and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Boles, W. (2019). Chestnut Quail-thrush (Cinclosoma castanotum). 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 25 March 2019).