Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Chinese Blackbird (Turdus mandarinus)


French: Merle de Chine German: Mandarinamsel Spanish: Mirlo mandarín

T[urdus]. mandarinus


, 1850,

Asia or China = Xiamen to Shanghai


Until recently considered conspecific with T. merula and formerly with T. maximus and T. simillimus, but in fact belongs in a separate clade#R and differs (including from race intermedius, which was said in HBW to belong with present species but aligns vocally and genetically with T. merula) in its shade paler plumage in male (1); shade darker plumage in female (1); much broader streaks on throat in female (2); distinctly deeper bill (at least 1); and strikingly different voice including, in song, much larger number of repeated notes per phrase (at least 2) and lack of high-pitched ending (at least 2)#R. Two subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. m. sowerbyi Deignan, 1951 – C China (Gansu S to W Sichuan); non-breeding also S China and N Indochina.
  • T. m. mandarinus Bonaparte, 1850 – E China (E from C Shaanxi, E Sichuan and Yunnan, and N to Beijing); non-breeding also S China, Hainan and N Indochina.
  • Descriptive notes

    28–29 cm. A large, all-dark thrush. Male nominate race is all sooty black above and brownish black below, with narrow orange-yellow eyering; iris dark; bill orange to bright... read more


    Male’s song, delivered from elevated perch, is a melodious series of repetitive fluted whistles, e.... read more


    Open woodland of all types, especially deciduous, also edge habitats, parks, gardens, plantations... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates, especially earthworms and adult and larval insects; also seeds, berries and fruits; occasionally catches and eats small... read more


    Season Mar–Jul; up to two or three broods per year. Nest a large cup of dry grass and twigs packed together wth mud, lined with finer... read more


    Partially migratory. Some N breeders winter S of breeding range; present around Hong Kong in winter... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally common in most of its range; also a common winter visitor and passage migrant in Hong Kong. This species has a very large... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Chinese Blackbird (Turdus mandarinus). 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 17 February 2020).