Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Karoo Thrush (Turdus smithi)


French: Merle de Smith German: Karoodrossel Spanish: Zorzal del Karoo

T[urdus]. smithi


, 1850,

towards the source of the Orange River


Until recently considered conspecific with T. olivaceus (and T. abyssinicus and T. roehli), but differs in its all-yellow bill (no dark upper culmen) (2); fairly bold yellow vs weak and non-contrasting grey or yellowish eyering (2); more extensive, less olive-washed grey breast and flanks (2); less well-marked throat (ns[2]); greyish vs olive-washed upperparts (ns[1]); less well-marked undertail-coverts (ns[2]); narrow hybrid zone (2). Monotypic.


S & SC Namibia, extreme SE Botswana (Gaborone), W Lesotho and South Africa (except coastal and NE areas).

Descriptive notes

20–24 cm; 54–92 g. Adult has upperparts browner, less greenish grey than in nominate T. olivaceus, fore throat dusky brown not white, with finer and lighter brown... read more


Vocalizations not known to differ from those of T. olivaceus, but apparently not subject... read more


Found in riverine bush, exotic plantations, gardens, parks and orchards in desert, semi-desert and... read more

Food and feeding

Food items include a variety of wild and cultivated fruit, seeds, small reptiles, insects, spiders, oligochaetes, molluscs and even small... read more


Since split of this species from T. olivaceus, comparatively few data available that unequivocally relate to the present taxon.... read more


Generally resident and sedentary. However, in Namibia, influx into Naukluft Mts (c. 400 km from... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally fairly common to common in Botswana and South Africa, but rare in Namibia, where doubtless at edges of tolerance to dry... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Karoo Thrush (Turdus smithi). 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).