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Olive Thrush - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies olivaceus
Photo © by Mybs
Cape Town, South Africa, 20 March 2005
Turdus olivaceus


Length 24 cm. (9.5")
Adult: Upper-parts and upper chest dark olive grey-brown; throat white heavily streaked black; remainder of under-parts orange; vent whitish; bill and legs yellow; dark eye-ring.
Juvenile: Like adult but streaked above with pale spots on wing coverts; paler with heavy spotting below.

Similar Species

  • African Thrush is paler with less orange below and has a less orange bill.
  • Kurrichane Thrush has a brighter orange eye-ring and bill; distinct black malar stripes; white centre of belly, paler upper-parts.
  • Karoo Thrush is greyer above, especially on the head and is much darker below; orange confined to lower belly only; vent grey, not white.
  • Taita Thrush has head, throat, breast and upperparts much darker.
  • Somali Thrush is dark slate-grey overall. Lacks orange or olive tones.
  • Usambara Thrush has head darker and greyer with belly white.
  • Abyssinian Thrush has yellowish eyering and reduced white on throat. It is less olive, slightly paler brown above;


Africa. Common resident in South and South East; also eastern highlands of Zimbabwe and adjacent Mozambique.


Formerly considered conspecific with Usambara Thrush, Karoo Thrush, Taita Thrush, Somali Thrush and Abyssinian Thrush.
A recent paper proposes subspecies swynnertoni as another more likely candidate for splitting[5]. This is a polytypic species.


Six subspecies are recognized:[1]

  • Darker above than nominate; throat more buff; belly paler.
  • Similar to milanjensis but richer brown above.
  • T. o. culminans: Natal (Drakensberg to Nkandhla, Qudeni and Ngorne forests)
  • Like pondoensis but lacks olive wash above; darker and browner below.
  • T. o. transvaalensis: Northern and eastern Transvaal and western eSwatini
  • Like culminans but darker and more olive above; more ochre below.
  • T. o. pondoensis: Natal and eSwatini to Transkei and eastern Cape Province
  • More olive tinged above, more orange below compared to nominate.
  • T. o. olivaceus: South Africa (southwest Cape Province)
  • Dark olive-tinged, grey-brown above.


Forest, well-wooded areas, alien growth, parks and gardens.



Its diet consists of insects, molluscs, and spiders.


It builds a cup nest, typically up to 6 m above the ground in a tree. The 2-3 blue eggs are incubated mainly by the female for 14-15 days. The chicks fledge in another 16 days.


Song short sweet phrases, without trilled quality of Kurrichane Thrush.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Collar, N. (2018). Olive Thrush (Turdus olivaceus). 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 https://www.hbw.com/node/58279 on 24 June 2018).
  3. Hockey, PAR, WRJ Dean, and PG Ryan, eds. 2005. Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa. 7th ed. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund. ISBN 978-0620340533
  4. Sinclair, I., Hockey, P.A.R., and Arlott, N. (2005). The Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town. ISBN 978-1775840992
  1. Thread in Birdforum taxonomy forum discussing taxonomic status of subspecies swynnertoni
  2. Wikipedia

Recommended Citation

External Links