Taita thrush

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Taita thrush
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Turdidae
Genus: Turdus
T. helleri
Binomial name
Turdus helleri
Mearns, 1913

Turdus olivaceus helleri

The Taita thrush (Turdus helleri), also known as Taita olive thrush or Heller's ground thrush, is a critically endangered bird from the family of thrushes (Turdidae), endemic to the Taita Hills in Kenya.


The Taita thrush was previously classified as subspecies of the olive thrush (Turdus olivaceus), but it is regarded as distinct species since 1985. It reaches a length between 20 and 22 centimetres. Head, breast and upperparts are coloured darkly. The underparts are white and the flanks have a rufous hue. The eyes and the bill exhibit a pale orange coloration. It was named after zoologist Edmund Heller (1875–1939) a workmate of the American ornithologist Edgar Alexander Mearns (1856–1916) who described this species scientifically in 1913.


The Taita thrush is a forest-dependent endemic bird confined to three forests in the Taita Hills (in the south east of Kenya): Mbololo, Chawia and Ngangao. The forests cover a tiny 342 ha. Conservationists are using birds – with the thrush as the flagship species – to champion the conservation of the Taita Hills forests.


It is restricted to montane moist forests. Despite its natural native habitat having been severely logged in the past, it has avoided forests with secondary growth, shrub vegetation, and cultivated areas. Extensive research has shown only very few migrations between the fragmented populations.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Turdus helleri". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.

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