Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Near Threatened

Usambara Thrush (Turdus roehli)


French: Merle de Roehl German: Usambaradrossel Spanish: Zorzal de los Usambara

Turdus roehli


, 1905,

Mlalo, near Lushota, Usambara Mountains


Until recently considered conspecific with T. olivaceus (and T. abyssinicus). Belongs in clade with T. abyssinicus, differing from all taxa in that species in its white central underparts to undertail-coverts (2); deeper rufous-tan flanks (1); marginally more olive upperparts (1); clearly shorter tail (unmeasured, but on small sample of material in NHMUK constantly c.1 cm shorter; allow 2). Total score here thus falls just short of clear support for separation, but (a) study of vocalizations may be expected to reveal further differences, and (b) molecular evidence indicates unification with T. abyssinicus implausible#R (and impossible while T. helleri—which see for separation from all taxa associated with T. abyssinicus—treated as full species). Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

NE Tanzania (N Pare Mts to W & E Usambara Mts).

Descriptive notes

20–24 cm; 66·5–75·5 g. Adult has head very dark grey, upperparts including tail rich, dark brown, greyish-brown throat with fine, pale streaking, becoming even greyer and... read more


Not definitely known to differ from formerly conspecific T. abyssinicus, although some... read more


Found in both primary and secondary forest, as well as edge habitats, but not in adjacent small-... read more

Food and feeding

Diet comprises insects, molluscs, nematodes, termites, millipedes, spiders, small lizards and fruit. Forages in leaf litter by slowly... read more


Almost nothing known; first nesting data collected only recently. Season probably starts in late Aug/early Sept. Mean home-range size is 9·... read more


Sedentary, with no evidence of any altitudinal movements; however, juveniles disperse more widely... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. Restricted-range species: confined to a small part of the Tanzania–Malawi mountains EBA. Occurs within the... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Usambara Thrush (Turdus roehli). 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).