Cover image by Gregg Darling – BirdPix 28166 Olive Thrush
The Olive Thrush has a dark grey head, back, and tail, an orange belly, and a white rump. It has a yellow bill with a dark base and on its throat it has a white patch with dark streaks. Its legs and feet are orange. Males and females look alike. Juvenile birds are quite spotty and pale in colour.
It has a wonderful melodious call! Take a listen here.
The Olive Thrush is endemic to southern Africa, with the bulk of its distribution centred on South Africa’s eastern and southern coast. Its range extends into Lesotho and Limpopo Province, with a smaller population in Zimbabwe’s eastern highlands.
It prefers riverine bush and montane forest. It has adapted to alien tree plantations, gardens, parks and fruit orchards. In particular, Olives Thrushes like well-shaded places with damp soil and moist leaf litter. They also love a bird bath!
The Olive Thrush is a rather shy and unobtrusive bird. It can often be found in the quieter corners of a garden, under trees and bushes, while it is looking for food. Although you can encounter an Olive Thrush at any time of the day, you are most likely to see it at dawn or dusk, because that is the time when it is most active. So it can be described as crepuscular.
It mainly eats earthworms supplemented with insects. It also eats other invertebrates and fallen fruit. It does most of its foraging on the ground, flicking through leaf litter in search of prey.
The female builds a cup nest, typically up to 6 m above the ground in a tree. The Olive Thrush especially likes to nest in gardens, so keep an eye out! The 2-3 eggs are incubated mainly by the female for 14-15 days to hatching, and the chicks fledge after about another 16 days. The young ones remain dependent on their parents for up to 2 months after fledging!
Species text from the first Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP1), 1997.
Virtual Museum (BirdPix > Search VM > By Scientific or Common Name).
Other common names: Olyflyster (Afrikaans); Umswi (Xhosa); umuNswi (Zulu); Kaapse lijster (Dutch); Kapdrossel (German).
Recommended citation format: Loftie-Eaton M and Daniel KA 2022. Olive Thrush Turdus olivaceus. Bird Feeder Project. Biodiversity and Development Institute. Available online at http://thebdi.org/2022/11/09/olive-thrush-turdus-olivaceus/