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Species Guide
A photo of a Japanese Thrush (Turdus cardis), male
Japanese Thrush, Male

Japanese Thrush

Turdus cardis

The Japanese thrush, or Turdus cardis, is a mid-sized member of the thrush family, Turdidae. Known also as the grey thrush or Japanese grey thrush, this bird exhibits striking sexual dimorphism in its plumage.

Identification Tips

Males of the species are characterized by their black head, breast, back, wings, and tail, contrasted with a white underside that features black spots on the upper belly and flanks. Their legs, bill, and a thin eye-ring are a vivid yellow. Females, on the other hand, display a brown upper body with a white throat, breast, and belly, which is gently washed with rusty orange on the flanks and adorned with black spots.


The Japanese thrush is typically found in forests and woodlands, which may be deciduous or a mix of deciduous and coniferous. During breeding, it prefers such natural habitats, but it is also known to inhabit secondary forests and even urban areas, such as gardens and parks.


This migratory bird breeds in central China and Japan, with its arrival in Japan timed around April or May. Come winter, it heads to coastal southern China, including Hainan, and extends to northern Laos and Vietnam, departing its breeding grounds around October. It is occasionally seen as a passage migrant in Taiwan and has been recorded as a vagrant in Thailand.


The Japanese thrush is known to feed on the ground, where it forages through leaf-litter in search of insects and earthworms. It also partakes in fruit. The species is known to double brood, raising two sets of offspring within a single season.


Nests are constructed from twigs and moss, bound together with mud and lined with hair and rootlets. The female lays a clutch of 2-5 eggs, which are then incubated for a period of 12-13 days. After hatching, the chicks remain in the nest for about 14 days. Remarkably, the female may begin laying a new clutch shortly after the first brood has fledged.

Diet and Feeding

The Japanese thrush's diet consists primarily of insects and earthworms, which it uncovers by scratching through leaf-litter. It also supplements its diet with fruit.

Conservation status

The Japanese thrush is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that, at present, there are no immediate threats to its population numbers that would warrant a higher level of concern.

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Japanese Thrushes on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
Frank Peche
22 Nov 2023 - 9:08am

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