Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Varzea Thrush (Turdus sanchezorum)


French: Merle des Sanchez German: Várzeadrossel Spanish: Zorzal de varzea

Turdus sanchezorum

O’Neill et al.

, 2011,

south of River Amazon, c. 10 km SSW of mouth of Río Napo on the east bank of Quebrada Vainilla, c. 100 m, Loreto, Peru


Understanding of the taxonomic relationship between T. hauxwelli and T. fumigatus has been confounded by morphological variation within latter and apparent geographical overlap of the two taxa. Recent evidence shows that some of these factors may be explained by the existence of this cryptic, syntopic species, very similar in plumage to T. hauxwelli but differing in its yellow-olive vs blackish bill (2); narrow yellow eyering vs none (2); whiter throat (ns[1]); grey-brown vs rufescent tail (2); and typically shorter song phrase (2) with fewer notes (ns[2]), and mewing call vs none (4)#R. Mewing call, song and molecular data indicate that it is not particularly close to hauxwelli or fumigatus, but is, rather, the W Amazonian member of the “T. nudigenis complex” (see that species); molecular phylogeny suggests that the new species is sister to T. haplochrous, and also corroborates treatment of T. maculirostris as a full species, separate from T. nudigenis, although it is acknowledged that “Delimiting species within the T. nudigenis clade is not straightforward”#R; further research needed on species limits within this complex. Monotypic.


W & C Amazonia: recorded along larger tributaries of upper R Amazon/R Solimões in N Brazil, extreme SE Colombia and N Peru (where it extends along upper R Mayo Valley, in San Martín)#R#R.

Descriptive notes

c. 22–24 cm; 58 g. A large thrush. Head and upperparts, including upperwing-coverts, uniformly rich sepia-brown; flight-feathers dark dull brown, outer webs edged warm... read more


Varied repertoire. Most distinctive vocalization a rising, querulous, mewing call, very different... read more


Primarily várzea forest. In Peru, found also in open white-sand forest/savanna and... read more

Food and feeding

Little information available; likely omnivorous. Stomach of one specimen contained blackish fruit pulp, with a few seeds (7 × 5 × 4 mm);... read more


Two males with enlarged testes in Dec and Jan in Peru; probable juveniles in Brazil (along R Madeira) in Feb and May, coupled with presence... read more


Probably resident.

Status and conservation

Not assessed. Locally common. In Colombia has been recorded at only one site (I Ronda) in Amazonas; in Peru, found in San Martín (at least two sites), Loreto (eight or... read more

Recommended citation

Fjeldså, J. (2020). Varzea Thrush (Turdus sanchezorum). 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 23 February 2020).