Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Orange-billed Nightingale-thrush (Catharus aurantiirostris)


French: Grive à bec orange German: Goldschnabel-Musendrossel Spanish: Zorzalito piquigualdo

Turdus aurantiirostris


, 1850,

Caracas, Venezuela


Subspecies form three distinct groups: brown-headed “melpomene group”; grey-headed “griseiceps group” (sometimes considered a separate species); and “aurantiirostris group”. Race sierrae sometimes merged into nominate. Described races aenopennis (from N Sinaloa and SW Chihuahua, in Mexico), bangsi (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala) and russatus (mountains of SW Costa Rica and W Panama) synonymized with, respectively, clarus, melpomene and griseiceps. Eleven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. a. clarus Jouy, 1894 – NW & NC Mexico.
  • C. a. melpomene (Cabanis, 1851) – Brown-headed Nightingale-thrush#RC & S Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and NW Nicaragua.
  • C. a. costaricensis Hellmayr, 1902 – Costa Rica (except SW).
  • C. a. griseiceps Salvin, 1866 – Grey-headed Nightingale-thrush – SW Costa Rica and W & C Panama.
  • C. a. phaeopleurus P. L. Sclater & Salvin, 1876 – W Colombia.
  • C. a. sierrae Hellmayr, 1919 – Santa Marta Mts, in N Colombia.
  • C. a. aurantiirostris (Hartlaub, 1850) – Orange-billed Nightingale-thrush – NE Colombia and W Venezuela.
  • C. a. barbaritoi Aveledo & Ginés, 1952 – Sierra de Perijá, in NW Venezuela.
  • C. a. birchalli Seebohm, 1881 – NE Venezuela and Trinidad.
  • C. a. inornatus J. T. Zimmer, 1944 – W slope of E Andes of Colombia (Santander).
  • C. a. insignis J. T. Zimmer, 1944 – E slope of Andes of Colombia.
  • Descriptive notes

    15·5–17 cm; 21–32 g. Nominate race is rufous-tinged olive-brown from crown to tail, more rufous on rump, tail and wings; greyish-brown face with narrow... read more


    Song, given all year, from hidden perch less than 2 m up, relatively poor and unmusical, consists... read more


    In Middle America, brushy or fairly open understorey and low dense thickets in various woodland... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, spiders, worms and other invertebrates; also fruit and seeds, including deep purple berries of Miconia trinervia and... read more


    Late Apr to Sept in Mexico; Mar–Aug in Costa Rica; Mar–Jul and Nov in Colombia; May in Trinidad. Nest a bulky thick-walled cup... read more


    Resident or partial migrant. Descends to sea-level Oct–Apr on Pacific slope of Mexico, and... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common in most of range. Common in S Mexico (Oaxaca), but uncommon in interior highlands of Honduras. Common on Pacific slope and in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2019). Orange-billed Nightingale-thrush (Catharus aurantiirostris). 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 7 December 2019).