Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Orange-headed Thrush (Geokichla citrina)


French: Grive à tête orange German: Damadrossel Spanish: Zorzal citrino

Turdus citrinus


, 1790,

Cachar, India


Geographical variation difficult to interpret, as both migratory and resident populations exist. Strong contrast in India between nominate race and cyanota suggests separate species, but overlap and “leap-frog” pattern of key characters between races renders new arrangement problematic; dark-barred face pattern of some races appears present in all juvenile plumages. Race gibsonhilli may represent a hybrid swarm where nominate and innotata meet#R; treated as part of latter by some authors. Proposed race orientis (from E Java) based on longer wing, but considered not distinct from rubecula; putative race amadoni (from Chanda, in C India) indistinguishable from cyanota. Eleven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. c. citrina (Latham, 1790) – Himalayas from NE Pakistan (Murree Hills) E to NE India and W & N Myanmar; non-breeding S India and Sri Lanka.
  • G. c. cyanota (Jardine & Selby, 1828) – C & S India.
  • G. c. gibsonhilli Deignan, 1950 – C & SE Myanmar, SW Thailand; non-breeding Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore.
  • G. c. innotata (Blyth, 1846) – S China (W & S Yunnan), E Myanmar, N Thailand, NW & S Indochina; non-breeding Peninsular Malaysia.
  • G. c. melli (Stresemann, 1923) – S China (S Guizhou, Guangxi, N Guangdong, Fujian).
  • G. c. courtoisi (E. J. O. Hartert, 1919) – Anhui (E China).
  • G. c. aurimacula (E. J. O. Hartert, 1910) – C Indochina and Hainan.
  • G. c. andamanensis (Walden, 1874) – Andaman Is.
  • G. c. albogularis (Blyth, 1847) – Nicobar Is.
  • G. c. aurata (Sharpe, 1888) – N Borneo (Mt Kinabalu and Mt Trus Madi, Crocker Range).
  • G. c. rubecula (Gould, 1836) – Java and Bali.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–23 cm; 47–67 g. Shy, crepuscular. Male nominate race is dull pale orange with vaguely mottled matt and glossy grey mantle to wings and tail (glossy parts... read more


    Song (nominate) loud, rich, melodious, varied series of short, cohesive phrases involving slurred... read more


    Understorey of moist deciduous forest and evergreen forest, mixed secondary and bamboo thickets,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects (including termites), earthworms, leeches, slugs, snails, berries, fruit, grass seed; especially figs in winter in Peninsular... read more


    Breeds Apr–Jun (seemingly also Jul–Aug) in Himalayas, May–Sept elsewhere in India; generally May–Oct in SE Asia but... read more


    Nominate race migratory except in S Assam hills, wintering over Indian Peninsula; passes through Pt... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Very local and scarce in Pakistan, breeds only in Margalla Hills. Uncommon to rare in China, including Hainan. Fairly scarce resident throughout... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & de Juana, E. (2020). Orange-headed Thrush (Geokichla citrina). 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).