Thrushes (Turdidae)

Olive Thrush (Turdus olivaceus) - HBW 10, p. 657

French: Merle olivâtre German: Kapdrossel Spanish: Zorzal Oliváceo
Other common names: Northern Olive Thrush (N races); Abyssinian Thrush (abyssinicus); Karoo Thrush (smithi), Oldean’s Thrush (oldeani); Roehl’s Thrush (roehli); Swynnerton’s Thrush (swynnertoni)

Taxonomy: Turdus olivaceus Linnaeus, 1766, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.
Taxonomy complex and not fully understood. Commonly considered conspecific with T. helleri and T. ludoviciae; also, most races of T. pelios have in the past been included within present species. Hybridization with T. libonyanus claimed in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Recent morphological and molecular analyses suggest that race smithi possibly a separate species, but further evaluation required in view of lack of clarity over plumage characters and nature and extent of a hybrid zone with parapatric nominate race. N assemblage of races, centred on abyssinicu.. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Turdus olivaceus Linnaeus, 1766, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.
Taxonomy complex and not fully understood. Commonly considered conspecific with T. helleri and T. ludoviciae; also, most races of T. pelios have in the past been included within present species. Hybridization with T. libonyanus claimed in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Recent morphological and molecular analyses suggest that race smithi possibly a separate species, but further evaluation required in view of lack of clarity over plumage characters and nature and extent of a hybrid zone with parapatric nominate race. N assemblage of races, centred on abyssinicus, may also warrant treatment as a distinct species, but further study needed. Proposed race mwaki (described from W Turkana, in Kenya), which implicitly also includes porini (replacement for fuscatus, described from N Nandi Forest, in Kenya), considered indistinguishable from abyssinicus. Fourteen subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • abyssinicus J. F. Gmelin, 1789 - Eritrea and Ethiopia S to Sudan, N Uganda, N, W & C Kenya and N Tanzania (S to Loliondo).
  • deckeni Cabanis, 1868 - N Tanzania (Kilimanjaro S to Monduli).
  • oldeani P. L. Sclater & Moreau, 1935 - Mbulu and Crater Highlands, in N Tanzania.

     See all 14 subspecies
  • abyssinicus J. F. Gmelin, 1789 - Eritrea and Ethiopia S to Sudan, N Uganda, N, W & C Kenya and N Tanzania (S to Loliondo).
  • deckeni Cabanis, 1868 - N Tanzania (Kilimanjaro S to Monduli).
  • oldeani P. L. Sclater & Moreau, 1935 - Mbulu and Crater Highlands, in N Tanzania.
  • baraka (Sharpe, 1903) - E DRCongo (Virunga Park) and W Uganda (Ruwenzori Mts).
  • bambusicola Neumann, 1908 - E DRCongo, Burundi, Rwanda, SW Uganda and NW Tanzania.
  • roehli Reichenow, 1905 - NE Tanzania.
  • nyikae Reichenow, 1904 - E & S Tanzania, N Malawi and NE Zambia.
  • milanjensis Shelley, 1893 - S Malawi and NW Mozambique.
  • swynnertoni Bannerman, 1913 - E Zimbabwe and W Mozambique.
  • transvaalensis (Roberts, 1936) - NE South Africa and W Swaziland.
  • smithi Bonaparte, 1850 - S Namibia, SE Botswana and N South Africa (Northern Cape E to Free State and SW former Transvaal).
  • olivaceus Linnaeus, 1766 - SW South Africa (Western Cape).
  • culminans Clancey, 1982 - E South Africa (W KwaZulu-Natal).
  • pondoensis Reichenow, 1917 - SE South Africa (E KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape).
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