Turdus libonyanus (Kurrichane thrush) 

[= Turdus libonyana

Rooibeklyster [Afrikaans]; umuNswi (generic term for thrush) [Zulu]; Mbyhiyoni [Tsonga]; Kurrichane-lijster [Dutch]; Merle kurrichane [French]; Rotschnabeldrossel [German]; Tordo-chicharrio [Portuguese]

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Turdus libonyanus (Kurrichane thrush)  Turdus libonyanus (Kurrichane thrush) 

Kurrichane thrush. [photo Andries Steenkamp ]

Kurrichane thrush, Shamvura, Namibia. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in south-central Africa, from Tanzania and southern DRC through Angola, Zambia and Malawi to southern Africa. Here it is locally common in a wide variety of habitats, but it generally prefers miombo (Brachystegia), Acacia (to a lesser extent) and moist woodland. It also occupies valley bushveld, alien plantations, gardens and parks.

Distribution of Kurrichane thrush in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Red-chested cuckoo.


It eats a variety of insect and fruit, doing most of its foraging on the ground, scratching in leaf litter and pecking the soil in search of food. It has been observed to kleptoparasitise, attempting unsuccessfully to steal food from a wasp and a Pearl-spotted owlet. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Animals
  • Plants
    • Ficus (figs)
    • Rhus berries


  • The nest (see image below) is a bowl built solely by the female in about 1-2 days, consisting of a foundation of mud mixed with rootlets on which a cup of grass, twigs and leaves is built, occasionally also with string, plastic and paper as well. The nest is usually built after rainfall - if not, all the materials are dipped in water to make them damp. It is typically placed in the three-pronged fork of a branch near the tree trunk, or occasionally on a horizontal branch, and it may even use refurbished nests of other species, such as the Groundscraper thrush, Laughing dove and Common fiscal
Turdus libonyanus (Kurrichane thrush)  

Kurrichane thrush nest with eggs, Sericea farm, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ]

  • Egg-laying season is from August-March, peaking from September-December.
  • It lays 1-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 12-15 days.
  • The chicks are brooded by the female, with both parents feeding their young on a diet of insects and worms, the size of which increase as the chicks age. They eventually leave the nest after about 12-16 days, after which they still remain dependent on their parents for at least 2 more months. Parental devotion is very strong in this species, as a "lost" chick adopted by people was observed being fed by a parent through the bars of the cage days after they were separated.


Not threatened, in fact it is quite common and has adapted well to the introduction of man-made habitats.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 



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