Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

White's Thrush (Zoothera aurea)


French: Grive dorée German: Erddrossel Spanish: Zorzal dorado de Siberia
Other common names: Sri Lanka Scaly Thrush (imbricata)

Turdus aureus


, 1825,

“dans les bois de Rezonville”, Metz, France


Taxonomy complex and unresolved, for reasons given under Z. dauma. Until 1990s present species considered conspecific with dauma, but differs significantly in song, a simple long flat whistle vs a series of complex notes, hence a greatly reduced frequency range (4) and a much-reduced number of notes (3)#R; these differences and scores apply to all taxa included here except neilgherriensis (voice unknown), which is placed here because geographically and morphologically close to race imbricata (given species rank in HBW), which sings like nominate (albeit with slight downslur at start of whistle, occasionally heard also from Japanese birds). Migratory races aurea and toratugumi often treated as a separate species, as are resident horsfieldi and neilgherriensis. Seeming intergradation in SE Asia of certain plumage characters demarcating nominate aurea with nominate Z. dauma represents a problem that also affects status of horsfieldi, although latter is mensurally distinctive. Resident population on Iriomote (in S Ryukyu Is) recently described as a race of this species#R (song unknown); that on Taiwan (often treated under name horsfieldi) is referable to present species on basis of very similar song, but remains racially indeterminate. Six subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • Z. a. aurea (Holandre, 1825) – White's Thrush – E European Russia from S Urals and S Siberia E to N Mongolia and Sea of Okhotsk, also W Altai and W Tien Shan in Kazakhstan#R; non-breeding C & S Japan, S & SE China, N of SE Asia, N & W Philippines.
  • Z. a. toratugumi (Momiyama, 1940) – Russian Far East (Amurland) and Sakhalin S to Korea, Japan and S Kuril Is; non-breeding mainly E China and Taiwan.
  • Z. a. iriomotensis Nishiumi & Morioka, 2009 – Iriomote, in S Ryukyu Is.
  • Z. a. neilgherriensis (Blyth, 1847) – Nilgiri Thrush – hills of SW India from S Maharashtra S to Kerala and W Tamil Nadu.
  • Z. a. imbricata E. L. Layard, 1854 – Sri Lanka Thrush – hills of SW Sri Lanka.
  • Z. a. horsfieldi (Bonaparte, 1857) – Horsfield's Thrush – Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok and Sumbawa.
  • Taiwan population of undetermined taxonomic status.

    Descriptive notes

    24–30 cm; one individual 173 g (Japan). A large, golden-olive to yellowish-looking thrush with black scaling on white above and below (white on belly and vent), tinges... read more


    Song a simple long flat whistle c. 1·5 seconds long, delivered at intervals of several seconds;... read more


    In Russia, nominate race breeds in dark coniferous and mixed forests of S boreal zone and dark... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates, including worms, insects and their larvae, small slugs and snails; also berries. Stomachs of birds from Russia held worms,... read more


    Late May to Aug (probably earlier) in Siberia, May–Aug in N Korea and Apr–Aug in Japan; Mar–Jun in SW India; Jan and Jun on Java. Nest a... read more


    Mostly migratory, but resident in some parts of range (notably races neilgherriensis, ... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Uncommon to locally fairly common. This species has an extremely large range. Its global population size has not been quantified, but... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). White's Thrush (Zoothera aurea). 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).