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Red-backed Thrush Zoothera erythronota
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Near Threatened because it is believed to have suffered a moderately rapid decline owing to habitat loss and trapping, which is likely to continue into the future. Further information on the population size and distribution of, and extent of threats to, this species may show it to be more threatened.

Taxonomic note
Zoothera erythronota (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into Z. erythronota and Z. mendeni following Collar (2004).

19-21 cm. A medium-sized thrush. Russet crown to rump, black wings with two broad white wing-bars, white patches on face, black from chin to breast, and black bars on rest of whitish underparts. Race kabaena similar, but black on crown and mantle. Taxon on Buton may be intermediate, but nominate race also shows variation with, e.g., individuals recorded with black crown. Similar spp. None in range. Voice A thin, high-pitched, upslurred call note which, on Kabaena, is sandwiched by a higher preceding and lower following note. The alarm call consists of a series of chacks. Song reported to be a typically thrush-like liquid series of notes.

Distribution and population
Zoothera erythronota is restricted to Sulawesi and neighbouring Buton (race erythronota) and Kabaena (race kabaena), Indonesia (Robinson-Dean et al. 2002, Collar 2004). It is uncommon but easily overlooked on Buton, locally common on Kabaena (Robinson-Dean et al. 2002), and generally uncommon on Sulawesi (although population estimates are often dramatically increased once mist-netting is undertaken). Although there is not enough information to accurately assess its population size, since it appears to be somewhat patchily distributed throughout its range - often absent from apparently suitable habitat - it may prove to be quite low.

Population justification
Population estimate = 20 individuals/km2 x 17,000 km2 (20% of EOO) = 340,000 individuals (density range from up to lower quartile of two Asian congeners in BirdLife Bird Population Density Spreadsheet). Perhaps best currently placed in population band of 100,000-499,999 individuals, but population may prove to be much lower given its extremely patchy distribution.

Trend justification
Forest destruction within its altitudinal range has been extensive in recent decades. Since it does not appear tolerant to habitat degradation through much of its range, its populations must have suffered a commensurate decline, assumed here to approach the thresholds for listing as Vulnerable declines are perhaps best placed in the band 20-30% over ten years.

It inhabits lowland forest below 1,000 m. It seems to strongly prefer primary forest on Sulawesi and Buton, but on Kabaena, it is found in a wide range of closed canopy habitats, including shady plantations, secondary forest and bamboo stands as well as native forest (Clement and Hathway 2000, Robinson-Dean et al. 2002). It is usually recorded alone or in pairs on the ground (Clement and Hathway 2000). A nest was found in April in the fork of a low tree-stump (Clement and Hathway 2000).

Forest destruction within its elevation range has been extensive in recent decades. Since it does not appear tolerant to habitat degradation through much of its range, its populations must have suffered a commensurate decline. Fires in the long dry season are a threat to remaining forest (Robinson-Dean et al. 2002). Zoothera species are heavily traded elsewhere in Indonesia, because of their abilities as songsters, so it is likely that this threat is also impacting this species (Collar 2004, N. Brickle in litt. 2005).

Conservation Actions Underway
A number of protected areas occur within the range of this species on Sulawesi. Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further surveys to assess the specific habitat requirements and overall population size of this species. Assess the extent to which bird trade is a threat. Effectively protect forest within its range.

Clement, P.; Hathway, R. 2000. Thrushes. Christopher Helm, London.

Collar, N. J. 2004. Species limits in some Indonesian thrushes. Forktail 20: 71-87.

Robinson-Dean, J. C.; Willmott, K. R.; Catterall, M. J.; Kelly, D. J.; Whittington, A.; Phalan, B.; Marples, N. M.; Boaedi, D. R. S. 2002. A new subspecies of Red-backed Thrush Zoothera erthyronota kabaena subsp. nov. (Muscicapidae: Turdidae), from Kabaena Island, Indonesia. Forktail 18: 1-10.

Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1993. A supplement to 'Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world'. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Bird, J., Khwaja, N., Mahood, S., Pilgrim, J.

Brickle, N.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Zoothera erythronota. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Red-backed thrush (Zoothera erythronota) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Turdidae (Thrushes)
Species name author (Sclater, 1859)
Population size 100000-499999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 176,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species