Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Orange Ground-thrush (Geokichla gurneyi)


French: Grive de Gurney German: Gurneydrossel Spanish: Zorzal de Gurney

Turdus gurneyi


, 1864,

near Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa


Often treated as conspecific with G. crossleyi, in part owing to vocal similarity, but plumage differences favour treatment as separate species. Proposed races chyulu (from Chyulu Mts, in SE Kenya) and usambarae (from Mlalo, near Wilhelmstal, in N Tanzania) synonymized with raineyi. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. g. chuka (van Someren, 1931) – Mt Kenya and Kikuyu Escarpment.
  • G. g. raineyi (Mearns, 1913) – SE Kenya (Chyulu and Taita Hills) and N Tanzania.
  • G. g. otomitra (Reichenow, 1904) – W Angola (Namba Mts#R, Mt Moco), SE DRCongo (Upemba National Park), Tanzania, NE Zambia and N Malawi.
  • G. g. disruptans (Clancey, 1955) – C Malawi S to Mozambique, E Zimbabwe, NE South Africa and N Swaziland.
  • G. g. gurneyi (Hartlaub, 1864) – E South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal S to Eastern Cape).
  • Descriptive notes

    18–23 cm; 44–82 g. Nominate race is very like G. piaggiae, including double white-spotted wingbars, but solid ­olive-brown from forehead to tail,... read more


    Song (Kenya) varies from short, simple series of unrepeated phrases, “tu turii kiiu-turl” or “wurii... read more


    Primary montane forest, even very small patches, generally avoiding second growth, edge habitats... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates and vegetable matter; some vertebrates. Chiefly earthworms, but also millipedes, molluscs, woodlice, insects (including... read more


    Jan and May in Kenya, Aug and Dec in Tanzania, Oct–Jan in Malawi, Nov–Dec in Mozambique and Sept–Jan (peak Dec) in... read more


    Mainly sedentary, but partial altitudinal migrant. Very occasionally recorded on Kenyan and (once)... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Scarce to locally common. Classified as “Near-threatened” in South Africa; no evidence of decline during 1970s-1990s, but dependent on forest... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2020). Orange Ground-thrush (Geokichla gurneyi). 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 25 February 2020).