[order] Passeriformes | [family] Muscicapidae | [latin] Zoothera dauma | [UK] Whites Thrush | [FR] Grive dorée | [DE] Tanimbarerddrossel | [ES] Zorzal Australiano | [IT] Tordo dorato di Tenimber | [NL] Goudlijster

Goudlijster determination

copyright: P. Fraser

Largest thrush of west Palearctic. As long as Mistle Thrush but heavier about bill, head, and body and proportionately shorter-tailed. Structure unusual: bill long and heavy, head large, and wings relatively long (though bluntly pointed) in comparison with tail; combined with undulating flight, gives woodpecker-like appearance. Golden- or olive-buff above and yellow-white below, copiously scaled with black crescents on head and body and softly banded dark across primaries and primary coverts and along ends of all flight feathers. Underwing striped white, black, white, and grey from front to rear. When spread, tail and upper tail-coverts show distinctive pattern: pale golden centre contrasting with blackish panels and those emphasizing largely white outermost feathers.

Breeds in upper middle latitudes, mainly in boreal continental zone of taiga coniferous forest, largely within range of Siberian Thrush, which apparently shows greater preference for neighbourhood of water. Habitat includes dense spruce along river valleys, adjoining mixed or broad-leaved stands on ridges or slopes, including open woods with larch, birch, and aspen, often at headwaters of streams. In Himalayas, breeds to at least 3300 m, inhabiting densely forested hillsides on broken ground. In winter occurs in tropical and subtropical woodlands.

The taxonomy of the species has been in flux, and much more research and analysis is needed on variations in song and measurements to resolve this situation. Z. d. major was previously considered specifically distinct and Critically Endangered, with only c.58 breeding birds estimated to remain in 1996. It is confined to the islands of Amami-ooshima and Kakeroma-jima in the northern Nansei Shoto Islands, Japan, and threatened primarily by deforestation and invasive alien predators. Global population trends have not been quantified for Z. dauma, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Insects, worms, and berries. Feeds on ground, turning over leaves with bill. Flushes insects by suddenly opening wings and tail, and apparently brings worms to surface by raising itself up on toes and rapidly vibrating whole body for several seconds.

Zoothera dauma has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km2. The bulk of the population breeds across Siberia and the Himalayas, wintering to the northern Indian Subcontinent, northern south-east Asia, southern China, and southern Japan, but there are also some resident subspecies, including Z. d. neilgherriensis in the hills of south-west India, and Z. d. horsfieldi from Java to Sumbawa, Indonesia. The species is variously described as "uncommon" to "fairly common" across much of its range, but presumably has a large global population, including an estimated 50,000-200,000 individuals in Europe. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

In Western Siberia: fresh eggs are found 1 June, newly-fledged young in August. One brood, possibly 2. nest is built in fork of tree, 2-6 m up, occasionally on ground among stones and plants. Nest base of dry ferns supporting cup of leaves, twigs, and moss, poorly plastered on inside with mud; thick lining of thin rootlets, grass, and leaves. Clutch: 4-5.

Varies from wholly migratory to sedentary in different parts of range. Northern race aurea wholly migratory. Winters in Philippines, China south of Yangtze to Kwangtung and Yunnan, Hong Kong (where scarce with numbers varying considerably between years), Taiwan, Assam, and Indo-China. Migrates south-east from west of breeding range with passage across Sinkiang and north-west Mongolia. European records chiefly October-January; spring records perhaps of overwintering individuals.