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Grounscraper thrush

Psophocichla litsitsirupa

Photo by Ian White (Flickr)

Common name:
groundscraper thrush (en); tordo-de-peito-malhado (pt); merle litsitsipura (fr); zorzal litsitsirupa (es); akaziendrossel (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Turdidae

This species occurs in two separate areas in Africa. The subspecies P.l. simensis is only found in the highlands of Ethiopia and Eritrea, while three other subspecies occur from Tanzania, southern D.R. Congo and Angola south to northern South Africa.

These birds are 20-24 cm long and weigh 65-85 g.

The groundscraper thrush is mostly found in dry savannas and woodlands, particularly miombo Brachystegia and mopane Colosphermum mopane, and to a lesser extent Acacia. They also use dry grasslands and scrublands, moorland, pastures, plantations, arable land and rural gardens. This species occurs from sea level up to an altitude of 4.100 m.

They feed mainly on adult and larval insects, namely beetles, flies, termites, crickets and grasshoppers, but also take spiders, isopods, slugs, earthworms, skinks and fruits.

Groundscraper thrushes can breed all year round, varying among different parts of their range. The nest is an open cup made of stems, grass, rootlets, leaves and weeds secured with spider web and lined with feathers. It is typically placed in a vertical or horizontal fork against the tree trunk, often near the nests of fork-tailed drongos Dicrurus adsimilis, possibly to take advantage of the drongo’s aggressive nest defence tactics. The female lays 2-4 eggs which are incubated by both sexes for 14-15 days. The chicks are raised by both parents and fledge 16 days after hatching, but only become fully independent about 6 weeks later.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is reported to be uncommon to common. The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification on population sizes.

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