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Species Guide

Tibetan Blackbird

Turdus maximus

The Tibetan blackbird (Turdus maximus) is a member of the thrush family, Turdidae, distinguished by its relatively large size, measuring 23–28 centimeters in length. The males exhibit a blackish-brown plumage with darker tones on the head, breast, wings, and tail, complemented by a dull orange-yellow bill. Females, on the other hand, present with browner underparts and faint streaking on the throat, their bills a more subdued darkish yellow. Both sexes may give the impression of being slightly hooded, a subtle feature that adds to their distinct appearance.

Identification Tips

To identify the Tibetan blackbird, look for the absence of an eye-ring, a characteristic that sets it apart from the common blackbird. Additionally, the male's uniform dark plumage and the female's streaked throat are key identifiers. Their song, which lacks the warbles and trills of their common blackbird relatives, is also a distinguishing feature.


This species favors the steep grassy and rocky slopes, as well as alpine meadows situated above the tree line. These high-altitude environments provide the Tibetan blackbird with the seclusion and resources it requires.


The Tibetan blackbird graces the Himalayan regions, ranging from northern Pakistan to southeastern Tibet. It is a bird accustomed to high elevations, typically found at heights of 3,200–4,800 meters, though it may venture to slightly lower altitudes during the winter months.


The Tibetan blackbird is known to descend to lower elevations in the winter, but it is a creature of the heights, seldom seen below 3,000 meters. It is an omnivorous bird, partaking in a varied diet and often seen hopping over rocks and boulders in search of food.

Song & Calls

The vocal repertoire of the Tibetan blackbird includes a series of rapid grating notes, squeaks, wheezes, and guttural caws, interspersed with occasional piew-piew whistles. Its calls are distinctive, ranging from a low-pitched chut-ut-ut to a staccato chak-chak-chak-chak in flight, and a rattling chow-jow-jow-jow as an alarm.


Breeding season for the Tibetan blackbird spans from May to July, with a peak in June to early July. The species constructs cup nests from mud, animal hair, and fine grass, often in juniper or rhododendron bushes. Clutches typically consist of 3–4 eggs, which are incubated for 12–13 days, with fledging occurring after 16–18 days.

Diet and Feeding

An omnivorous feeder, the Tibetan blackbird's diet includes earthworms, molluscs, insects, small lizards, fruit, and seeds. It forages on the ground, favoring soft bare earth at the edge of melting snow, and in late summer, it may forage in flocks.

Conservation status

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified the Tibetan blackbird as Least Concern. This status reflects the bird's extensive range and large, apparently increasing population.

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