Scaly thrush

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Scaly thrush
Zoothera dauma - Ang Khang.jpg
Zoothera dauma aurea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Turdidae
Genus: Zoothera
Species: Z. dauma
Binomial name
Zoothera dauma
(Latham, 1790)
  • Geocichla horsfieldi
Subspecies Z. d. horsfieldi, Horsfield's thrush; illustration by Keulemans, 1881

The scaly thrush (Zoothera dauma) is a member of the thrush family Turdidae. One of its subspecies was named after the English naturalist Gilbert White.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

It breeds in wet coniferous taiga, mainly in eastern Asia and Siberia. Northern races are strongly migratory, with most birds moving to southeastern Asia during the winter. It is a very rare vagrant to western Europe.


The sexes are similar, 27–31 cm long, with black scaling on a paler white or yellowish background. The most striking identification feature in flight is the black band on the white underwings, a feature shared with Siberian thrush. The male has a song which is a loud, far-carrying mechanical whistle, with 5-10 second pauses between each one second long phrase twee...tuuu....tuuu....tuuu.

Subspecies Z. d. papuensis, illustration by Keulemans, 1881


There are several races which are now often split into a varying number of separate species. Z. d. aurea (White's thrush), including the questionable subspecies Z. d. toratugumi, is the migratory Siberian and north-east Asian form. Z. d. dauma (scaly thrush) breeds in the Himalaya and migrates to the foothills in winter. Z. d. horsfieldi (Horsfield's thrush) is resident in Indonesia on the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali, Lombok and Sumbawa. Z. d. neilgherriensis (Nilgiri thrush) is resident in the hills of southwest India. Z. d. imbricata (Sri Lanka thrush) is endemic to the hills of Sri Lanka and is particularly distinctive, being smaller, long-billed and rufous below. Z. d. major (Amami thrush) is restricted to the Amami Islands in Japan.

The taxonomy of this group is still in flux. Some of these subspecies are very similar and the identity of some populations, such as those on Taiwan, is uncertain.

The fawn-breasted thrush (Z. machiki) of Indonesia and the Bassian thrush (Z. lunulata) and russet-tailed thrush (Z. heinei) of Australia were also included in Z. dauma in the past.


The scaly thrush is very secretive, preferring dense cover. It nests in trees, laying three or four dull green eggs in a neat cup nest. It is omnivorous, eating a wide range of insects, earthworms and berries.


External links[edit]