First evidence of breeding White's Thrush documented in Kyrgyzstan


White's Thrush has been recorded holding territory in Kyrgyzstan in recent summers, shaking up known breeding range of the species.

A shy and discreet bird with crepuscular habits, White's Thrush breeds in wet coniferous taiga, mainly in the Eastern Palearctic in Siberia to Manchuria, Korea and Japan, wintering in South-East Asia. Due to its behaviour, vast habitat and largely inaccessible range, its exact distribution is poorly known.

However, on 30 June 2021 a male was observed singing on a wooded slope in the province of Issyk-Kul, in the east of the Central Asian country, by Paul Van Els and Carmen Hiddes. The bird was recorded at 2,750 m asl on a slope covered with a stand of spruces, with relatively dense undergrowth and scattered scree, overlooking the Tourgenaksu River – suitable breeding habitat for the species. Their observations were published in Sandgrouse.

White's Thrush is a rare vagrant to Europe. This bird was on Bressay, Shetland, in 2023 (Ian Bollen).


A new breeding population of White's Thrush

In Kyrgyzstan, White's Thrush was traditionally considered an occasional migrant, although its reproduction has been suspected in the past. However, the 2021 observation constitutes the first documented data during the nesting season. As a result, it has prompted speculation that the species may breed in small numbers in the country, which is rarely visited by birders.

The following year, on 7 May, a male was then heard singing further west in the Issyk-Kul Region. However, it's possible this bird was a late returning migrant, as individuals sometimes don't return to their assumed Siberian range – some 2,000 km to the north – until mid-May.

White's Thrush also breeds locally in the Kungey Alatau Mountains in southern Kazakhstan. 




Hidde, C, & Van Els, P. 2022. First evidence of breeding White's Thrush Zoothera aurea in Kyrgyzstan, with notes on additional records. Sandgrouse 44: 186-188.

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