Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Indian Blackbird (Turdus simillimus)


French: Merle des Nilgiri German: Indienamsel Spanish: Mirlo indio

Turdus simillimus


, 1839,

Avalanche, higher southern Nilgiri Plateau, India


Formerly considered conspecific with T. merula. Three subspecies groups, differing in size and in plumage details#R. Race nigropileus sometimes referred to as mahrattensis, but former has priority. Birds from E India described as race spencei, but indistinguishable from nigropileus. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. s. nigropileus (Lafresnaye, 1840) – Black-capped Blackbird – W, C & SE India (mainly in N Western Ghats, Satpuras and Eastern Ghats); non-breeding in plains to S India.
  • T. s. simillimus Jerdon, 1839 – Indian Blackbird – SW India (Nilgiris and surrounding hills).
  • T. s. bourdilloni (Seebohm, 1881) – hills of S India (S of Palghat Gap).
  • T. s. kinnisii (Blyth#R, 1851) – Sri Lanka Blackbird – Sri Lanka.
  • Descriptive notes

    19–22 cm; 60–94 g. Male nominate race is dark grey-brown above, darkest on crown (slight capped appearance), slightly paler greyish-brown below, palest on throat... read more


    Song a rapid series of rich, varied, short, slurred and usually paired notes; simpler in Sri Lanka... read more


    Breeds in moist deciduous and evergreen broadleaf forest, sholas, wooded ravines, dense scrub-... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates and fruits of forest. Forages on ground, where seen to peck at dung beside forest track; also feeds in fruiting and flowering... read more


    Feb–Nov in India; Mar–Apr and Aug–Sept in Sri Lanka. Nest a deep bulky cup of grass, moss and roots, strengthened with a... read more


    All populations make seasonal movements to lower levels; race nigropileus also undertakes... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common throughout range.

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2020). Indian Blackbird (Turdus simillimus). 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 19 February 2020).