Zoothera citrina otherwise known as the Orange Headed Thrush is a bird of the thrush family. The common name is fairly descriptive of the bird. The bird has an orange head and under parts. Males have grey upper parts while the female and young ones have brown upper parts. This bird is omnivorous and preys on a range of worms, earthworms and insects. They also feed on fruits. This bird is about 205-230 millimeters and weighs about 50 – 60 gms. This is fairly a common bird and is found through out the Indian Subcontinent and most of Southeast Asia. Found in evergreen woodlands with undergrowth of bushes and ferns. This bird is also found in bamboo forests, large gardens and orchards. Easily identified by its orange head and underparts. This is a shy bird and quite secretive occurring in pairs. They can congregate around food sources. Swift and Silent flier. Sits motionless when disturbed until threat has passed.
This Orange Headed Thrush is a subspecies found in Kerala called Z.c.cyanotus. This bird has a white throat and face sides, with two black stripes running downwards from below the eyes. Orange Headed Thrush build nests in which both partners participate. Nests are built on mango trees, small trees or on coffee bushes. Normally on trees the nest occur at a height of about 15 feet. Nest is a wide shallow cup made of roots and twigs. The inner part of the nest is lined with soft material like leaves, moss and other softer plant materials. Three to five eggs are laid. The eggs are cream or tinted with pale blue, grey or green, and have pale blotches and red spots. Incubation is for two weeks and the young ones leave the nest after another 10-12 days.
This Orange Headed Thrush was sighted by me at Periyar Tiger Reserve some time back. It was picking leaves from the ground and initially I saw it hopping here and there. First sighted at about 300 metres away and all I could make out was a blur of grey and orange. But I guessed it to be a bird. I took a couple of shots as best as I could. The distance proved a little too great for my lens. The bird was right in our wake and kept hopping away from us keeping the distance apart.