email a friend
printable version
Somali Thrush Turdus ludoviciae
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

Athough habitat destruction within its small range has not been as extensive or rapid as was once feared, apparently partly as a result of forest protection by local inhabitants, this species nevertheless has a small, decreasing range, within which its forest habitat is likely to be declining in area, extent and quality and population is likely to be declining. It is therefore classified as Vulnerable.

Taxonomic note
Turdus olivaceus (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into T. helleri on the basis of its highly distinct plumage pattern, and reportedly different voice (following Collar and Stuart 1985), T. ludoviciae on the basis of its extremely distinct plumage pattern following Collar et al. (1994) and T. olivaceus (with species limits accordingly revised).

23 cm. Medium-sized thrush of montane woodland. Brownish-grey with contrasting black head and breast. Bright yellow bill. Female has streaked and mottled white throat and streaked breast. Juvenile has similar blotching and spotting as in other young thrushes. Similar spp. Head of Olive Thrush T. olivaceus brownish-grey. Voice Song similar to T. olivaceus, alarm chatter harsher.

Distribution and population
Turdus ludoviciae occurs in mountain-top woodlands in northern Somalia. It was considered to be locally common in 1979, most notably in Daloh Forest Reserve where it was still very common (Ash and Miskell 1998), and was still common in the same location and at Mt. Wagar in 2005 (Miskell in litt. 2006). There is also a report from Gacaan Libex in 1999 (Miskell in litt. 2006).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 10,000-19,999 individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Rates of forest loss are not as great as once feared and local inhabitants are also protecting their forest. The species is therefore suspected to have experienced a decline of only 1-19% over the last ten years.

It is found in juniper woodlands and neighbouring open areas of mountain-tops at 1,300-2,000 m (Urban et al. 1997, Ash and Miskell 1998). It often feeds in small parties, sometimes in groups of up to 30 birds when feeding on fruiting juniper (Urban et al. 1997, Ash and Miskell 1998). Four nests have been found, all containing two eggs, and several pairs have been observed feeding young in the nest in May (Ash and Miskell 1998).

Even in 1979 the species's habitat was greatly threatened by forest destruction, including burning, felling and cattle-grazing, against which Forest Reserve status provides no protection in the current political situation (Ash and Miskell 1998). Although there were reports in 1998 that the juniper woodlands in the species's range had been completely felled (J. S. Ash in litt. 1999), in 2005 there was still intact juniper woodland at its known sites (Miskell in litt. 2006).

Conservation Actions Underway
In 2005 local inhabitants of the Daloh area were enthusiastically defending remaining juniper woodland from potential wood cutters (Miskell in litt. 2006). Conservation Actions Proposed
Establish how much of its habitat remains. Assess the size and trend of its population. Support local inhabitants in their defence of juniper woodland.

Ash, J. S.; Miskell, J. E. 1998. Birds of Somalia. Pica Press, Robertsbridge, U.K.

Collar, N. J.; Stuart, S. N. 1985. Threatened birds of Africa and related islands: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, and International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Cambridge, U.K.

Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Liège, Belgium.

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1997. The birds of Africa vol. V. Academic Press, London.

Further web sources of information
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
Ekstrom, J., Mahood, S., Shutes, S., Starkey, M., Symes, A.

Ash, J., Miskell, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Turdus ludoviciae. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

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 - Somali thrush (Turdus ludoviciae) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Turdidae (Thrushes)
Species name author (Phillips, 1895)
Population size 6000-15000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 12,100 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species