Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

White-backed Thrush (Turdus kessleri)


French: Merle de Kessler German: Rhododendrondrossel Spanish: Zorzal de Kessler
Other common names: Kessler's Thrush

Merula Kessleri


, 1876,

Gansu, China




E & NE Tibetan Plateau (E Qinghai and Gansu S to NE Xizang and NW Yunnan); non-breeding also SE Xizang and probably NE India (Arunachal Pradesh#R).

Descriptive notes

28 cm. Male has black hood to mid-breast and upper mantle, pinkish-buff lower mantle to back, clear-cut pinkish-tinged chestnut scapulars, lower back and rump, black wings... read more


Song a leisurely series of short mewing and squawking phrases, recalling T. viscivorus.... read more


Rocky scrub and dwarf bushes such as rhododendron and juniper (Juniperus) on mountain... read more

Food and feeding

Insects and worms in summer; berries in autumn, mainly berries of Juniperus squamata in winter. Forages largely on ground.... read more


Early or mid-May to early Aug; apparently single-brooded. Sociable when nesting, recalling T. pilaris; males form foraging flocks... read more


Sedentary in many areas; elsewhere a semi-nomadic winter migrant, moving to lower areas at and... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally considered rather rare. Rare to locally common in W of range.

Recommended citation

Collar, N. (2020). White-backed Thrush (Turdus kessleri). 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 26 January 2020).