Turdus olivaceus (Olive thrush) 

Olyflyster [Afrikaans]; Umswi [Xhosa]; umuNswi (generic term for thrush) [Zulu]; Setsipitsipi [South Sotho]; Kaapse lijster [Dutch]; Merle olivâtre [French]; Kapdrossel, Kapamsel [German]; Tordo-oliváceo [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Muscicapidae > Genus: Turdus

Turdus olivaceus (Olive thrush)  Turdus olivaceus (Olive thrush) 
Turdus olivaceus (Olive thrush) 
Olive thrush with praying mantis, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Top right: Olive thrush, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ©]

Bottom right: Olive thrush, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Endemic to southern Africa, with the bulk of its distribution centered on South Africa's eastern and southern coast extending to Limpopo Province and Lesotho, with a smaller population in Zimbabwe's eastern highlands. It generally prefers evergreen forest, forest edges, and suburban and rural gardens, in fact it is the 8th most common bird in Cape Town. It also occupies alien Acacia thickets and commercial orchards.

Brood parasites

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


It mainly eats earthworms supplemented with insects, other invertebrates and fallen fruit, doing most of its foraging on the ground, flicking through leaf litter in search of prey. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Invertebrates
  • Fruit
    • Acacia cyclops (Rooikrans)


  • The nest is built solely by the female in about 10 days, consisting of a large, moist bowl made of grass stems, twigs, earth, wet leaves and moss, lined with plant stems, fibres, tendrils and bracken. It is typically in the fork of a tree branch, especially in gardens, anywhere from 3-16 metres above ground.
  • Egg-laying season is basically year-round, peaking from August-December.
  • It lays 2-3 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 14 days, occasionally leaving the nest for up to an hour to forage.
  • The chicks are brooded mainly by the female for the first 2 days, and is also responsible for feeding them with food passed to her by the male for the first few days. Later both parents feed the young, who leave the nest at about 16 days old, when they can barely fly; they remain dependent on their parents for up to 2 months further.


Not threatened, in fact it has adapted extremely 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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