Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Ruddy-capped Nightingale-thrush (Catharus frantzii)


French: Grive à calotte rousse German: Bergmusendrossel Spanish: Zorzalito de Frantzius

Catharus Frantzii


, 1861,

Volcán de Irazú, Costa Rica


Formerly considered conspecific with C. occidentalis. Geographical variation of present species very slight; some races may be merged in due course. Recent study#R identified four mitochondrial lineages corresponding to isolated mountain ranges (Sierra Madre Oriental; Sierra Madre del Sur; highlands of Chiapas, Guatemala and El Salvador; and Talamanca Cordillera); significant vocal variation was apparent among the four clades, but vocal variation and genetic variation were uncorrelated; further research required. Proposed race confusus (SE San Luis Potosí S in mountains to N Oaxaca) synonymized with nelsoni. Eight subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. f. omiltemensis Ridgway, 1905 – SW Mexico (Jalisco, C Michoacán, E Morelos).
  • C. f. nelsoni A. R. Phillips, 1969 – SC Mexico (S San Luis Potosí S to C Veracruz, Oaxaca and Guerrero).
  • C. f. chiapensis A. R. Phillips, 1969 – S Mexico (N Chiapas) E to W Guatemala.
  • C. f. alticola Salvin & Godman, 1879 – S Mexico (SE Chiapas) and S Guatemala.
  • C. f. juancitonis Stone, 1931 – El Salvador and Honduras.
  • C. f. waldroni A. R. Phillips, 1969 – N Nicaragua.
  • C. f. frantzii Cabanis, 1861 – Costa Rica.
  • C. f. wetmorei A. R. Phillips, 1969 – W Panama.
  • Descriptive notes

    15·5–18 cm; 28–32 g. Nominate race has rich rufous-brown crown, shading to brownish-olive upperparts; face greyish, throat whitish with dark flecks spreading on... read more


    Song, by male, usually in evening or in dim, misty conditions from hidden low perch, consists of... read more


    Dense damp understorey of wet to semi-humid conifer, pine-oak and evergreen forest (cloudforest)... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects and other invertebrates; berries. Forages on and near ground, sometimes entering roadsides and pastures with tall adjoining... read more


    Jun in Mexico, throughout the rainy season, mostly May–Aug, in El Salvador, and Apr–Jun in Costa Rica. Nest a bulky cup of... read more


    Apparently sedentary; some movement to lower levels in winter.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common to common throughout range. Uncommon in Oaxaca (Mexico). Locally very common in El Salvador; thought probably to have... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2019). Ruddy-capped Nightingale-thrush (Catharus frantzii). 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 12 December 2019).