Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Himalayan Forest Thrush (Zoothera salimalii)


French: Grive de Salim Ali German: Walderddrossel Spanish: Zorzal de Salim Ali

Zoothera salimalii

Alström et al.

, 2016,

Mawphlang, Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, India


Until recently#R considered conspecific with (and not even subspecifically distinct within) Z. mollissima, so that different voice was thought to be a second song of latter#R. In fact, it differs from Z. mollissima (as circumscribed here, with former race Z. griseiceps treated under that species) in a long series of subtle plumage and bare-part colour characters, including more rufous-toned upper surface (1); slightly different face pattern (ns); less contrastingly patterned wing-coverts and primaries (ns); darker base of lower mandible (1); and pale vs dark claws (ns); but also in its longer bill (effect size on published data 1.65, score 1); shorter wing (effect size −1.29, score 1); parapatric occurrence along (below) the forest/alpine ecotone (3); and much more musical and “thrush-like” song, mixing rich, drawn-out clear notes and shorter, thinner ones vs mainly harsh scratchy notes (as described under Z. mollissima), hence maximum frequency of half the notes below 4 kHz vs all notes above 4 kHz (2) and minor differences in a range of published parameters (1)#R. Differs from Z. griseiceps in its shorter bill, wing and especially tail and tarsus (effect size for tarsus −4.91, score 2); lack of grey on forehead to nape (1); more contrasting face pattern (1); blotchier, less evenly streaked ear-coverts (1); song less deep and rich, with less drawn-out, musical notes, faster overall speed, and on average less halting endings to strophes, hence 0–1 vs 3–6 notes per song strophe below 2.5 kHz (2) and strophes on average longer (1)#R. Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

E Himalayas from Sikkim and N West Bengal (NE India) E to S & SE Xizang and W Yunnan (S China); single records from S Sichuan and SE Yunnan. Non-breeding at lower altitudes to as far S as Meghalaya and Manipur (NE India) and N Vietnam.

Descriptive notes

25–27 cm. Similar to Z. mollissima, Z. griseiceps and to lesser extent Z. dixoni, but compared with first-named has noticeably longer and deeper... read more


Song (usually given from concealed perch) considered much more musical and “thrush-like” than that... read more


Some variability across range: in Arunachal Pradesh, NE India, breeds in old coniferous forest with... read more

Food and feeding

Virtually nothing known, although diet and foraging behaviour presumably are similar to those of Z. mollissima.


Nothing yet reported, but basic details presumably similar to those of other members of the Z. mollissima complex.


As yet poorly understood (see Habitat), but this species appears to descend both latitudinally and... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common in E Himalayas, even abundant at Dulongjiang, in Yunnan province, China. This species' habitat is not under any... read more

Recommended citation

Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Himalayan Forest Thrush (Zoothera salimalii). 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).