Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Japanese Thrush (Turdus cardis)


French: Merle du Japon German: Scheckendrossel Spanish: Zorzal japonés

Turdus cardis


, 1831,



Chinese birds previously separated as race lateus, reportedly with sharper division between jet-black nape and slaty-black mantle, more uniformly dark flanks and brownish legs, but characters apparently variable. Monotypic.


CE China (Anhui and S Henan S to Guizhou) and Japan (Hokkaido S to Kyushu); non-breeding SE China (SE Yunnan, Guangxi, Guangdong), Hainan and N Indochina (S to C Annam).

Descriptive notes

21–22 cm. Male is black on head to nape and breast, slaty black on rest of upperparts; white belly to vent with black “inverted heart” spotting on upper... read more


Song, from treetop, rich in quality, long and warbling, rising and falling in pitch, with rhythm... read more


Broadleaf deciduous and mixed evergreen forest, preferring dark shady valleys and streamsides with... read more

Food and feeding

Insects and fallen fruits; also earthworms. Scratches in leaf litter.


From May in China and Apr–Aug in Japan; double-brooded. Polygynous males have been found in Japan, maintaining primary and secondary... read more


Migratory. Winters in Indochina S to C Laos and NC Vietnam, and in coastal areas of SE China,... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Relatively scarce to uncommon in China. In Japan, common breeder on Hokkaido and N & C Honshu, less common in SW Honshu, Sado,... read more

Recommended citation

Collar, N. & Bonan, A. (2020). Japanese Thrush (Turdus cardis). 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).