The Orange-headed Thrush, Zoothera citrinus, is common across much of India and south-east Asia. It likes well wooded areas with a preference for shady gullies and damp areas.
It is usually resident, but this individual, which was seen in Hong Kong, is a winter visitor there. Most migration is altitudinal with the birds reaching as low as 250 metres above sea-level during winter.
Orange-headed Thrushes were not recorded in Hong Kong until 1956 and they are still very scarce. The former British colony’s Z.c. melli strain is one of as many as 12 races and shows a lighter face than many of the others.
To describe the back as grey makes it sound very drab, but in good light it takes on a bluish hue.
Informed literature bears out my experience that most birds are seen singly or in pairs. Outside of the breeding season a few birds may join together in a loose flock if the feeding is good.
One feature that I can find no mention of in any of the literature is the appearance of filaments on the nape of this bird. The resolution has been reduced for the blog, but in high-res, 2 or 3 dark filaments are visible.
This individual is a male. The female and juvenile are browner on the back, though a female may resemble the male with age.
A three-part trip report for Hong Kong including the Orange-headed Thrush and visiting Tai Mo Shan, Cheun Lung Family Walk, and Aberdeen Reservoirs, can be found on Redgannet.
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