Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Russet-tailed Thrush (Zoothera heinei)


French: Grive de Heine German: Heineerddrossel Spanish: Zorzal de Heine

Oreocincla Heinei


, 1851,

#R, Japan; error = Queensland, north Australia


In the past was treated as a race of Z. dauma. Has been considered conspecific with Z. lunulata, but in Australia the two occur sympatrically without interbreeding, and also differ in song and egg colour; supposed intergrades are probably immature Z. lunulata. Mussau form eichhorni, distinctive in plumage pattern and coloration, size and behaviour, may merit treatment as a separate species#R. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • Z. h. eichhorni (Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1924) – Mussau Thrush – Mussau, in St Matthias Group (Bismarck Archipelago).
  • Z. h. papuensis (Seebohm, 1881) – WC to SE New Guinea.
  • Z. h. choiseuli (E. J. O. Hartert, 1924) – Choiseul, in Solomon Is.
  • Z. h. heinei (Cabanis, 1851) – Russet-tailed Thrush – E (possibly also NE) Queensland and NE New South Wales, in E Australia.
  • Descriptive notes

    23–27 cm; 85–115 g. Dark olive-brown above, heavily scaled black, with two pale brown wingbars; throat whitish, malar stripe pale tawny-pink; upper breast pale... read more


    Song in Australia (apparently) a series of prolonged descending double whistles, “wheeer-dooo”, or... read more


    Primary foothill and hill rainforest and wet eucalypt with closed canopy and deep leaf litter,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Worms and molluscs; also some fruit. Forages on ground in forest; comes to edges and on to tracks in early hours of day. In New Guinea,... read more


    Aug–Jan. Nest a large cup made from bark strips, dry grasses and leaves, covered with moss, lined with fine roots, placed up to 15 m... read more


    Local seasonal and altitudinal movements in Australia.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Rare (certainly only rarely encountered) in New Guinea; moderately common in Australia. Locally fairly common on Mussau (race eichhorni).... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2020). Russet-tailed Thrush (Zoothera heinei). 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).