White-backed Thrush

Kessler's Thrush
White-backed Thrush Turdus kessleri, also known as Kessler’s Thrush, male, Pamuling Temple (30.101555, 101.181815), Sichuan, China, elev. 4150 m (13,610 ft.), July. (Craig Brelsford)
Kessler's Thrush
Male, Qinghai, China, elev. 3940 m (12,920 ft.), August. (Craig Brelsford)
Kessler's Thrush
White-backed Thrush, female, Pamuling Temple (30.101555, 101.181815), Sichuan, elev. 4150 m (13,610 ft.), July. (Craig Brelsford)
Kessler's Thrush
Female, Huangqing Village (35.886777, 99.682612), Qinghai, elev. 3820 m (12,520 ft.), July. (Craig Brelsford)

Mainly Chinese range of White-backed Thrush Turdus kessleri, also known as Kessler’s Thrush, covers east and northeast Tibetan Plateau (including northwest Yunnan) and north-central China. Winters southern Tibet. HABITAT High, rocky terrain above tree line to 4500 m (14,760 ft.), descending in winter to 2000 m (6,560 ft.). ID & COMPARISON Male hood, wings, and tail black, mantle and upper breast buffish white, scapulars, belly, and rump chestnut. Female same pattern as male, but sometimes much drabber and more greyish-brown, with some whitish streaking on throat; also has faint supercilium. Juvenile like female but lacks chestnut coloring and has spots on scapulars and mantle. Chestnut Thrush T. rubrocanus smaller, has grey head, normally lacks buffish white plumage, and favors lower elevations. BARE PARTS Bill yellow, feet brownish. VOICE Chuckles harshly in alarm; song a series of short, whistling phrases. — Craig Brelsford


shanghaibirding.com has research on all 24 species in the genus Turdus in China. Click any link:

Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum
Tickell’s Thrush T. unicolor
Black-breasted Thrush T. dissimilis
Japanese Thrush T. cardis
White-collared Blackbird T. albocinctus
Grey-winged Blackbird T. boulboul
Common Blackbird T. merula
Chinese Blackbird T. mandarinus
Tibetan Blackbird T. maximus
Chestnut Thrush T. rubrocanus
White-backed Thrush T. kessleri
Grey-sided Thrush T. feae
Eyebrowed Thrush T. obscurus
Pale Thrush T. pallidus
Brown-headed Thrush T. chrysolaus
Black-throated Thrush T. atrogularis
Red-throated Thrush T. ruficollis
Naumann’s Thrush T. naumanni
Dusky Thrush T. eunomus
Fieldfare T. pilaris
Redwing T. iliacus
Song Thrush T. philomelos
Chinese Thrush T. mupinensis
Mistle Thrush T. viscivorus

See also:

Taiwan Thrush Turdus niveiceps


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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