Forest Thrush (Grive à pieds jaunes)

Grive à pieds jaunes Turdus lherminieri Forest ThrushIn Today blog post, I wanted to highlight the rich biodiversity of Guadeloupe Archipelago by introducing a rare species of bird. This post is dedicated to the Forest Thrush also known as the Grive à pieds jaunes (French) in Guadeloupe Archipelago. The Forest Thrush is an endemic species in the Lesser Antilles and can be found in Guadeloupe, Dominica and Montserrat. Saint-Lucia was the fourth island where we used to see it but it disappears over the years. There are 4 subspecies depending on the island. Here are the scientific names:

  • Turdus lherminieri lherminieri in Guadeloupe
  • Turdus lherminieri dominicensis in Dominica
  • Turdus lherminieri dorotheae in Montserrat
  • Turdus lherminieri sanctaeluciae in Saint-Lucia

As a vulnerable bird due to multiple threats, the species is protected in Dominica and Montserrat but not in Guadeloupe. Let’s find out more about this melodious bird.

Origin & Description

The Forest Thrush is a species of bird from the Turdidae family. This medium-sized thrush is 25 to 27 centimetres long and weighs about 100 grams. Its plumage varies a lot; its upper part is dark brown while the under part shows a scaly pattern with a variation of brown, yellow and white. Indeed, the breast, flanks and upper belly have a brownish colour with white and sometimes yellow spots. The lower belly is white. It has bare yellow skin around each eye as well as yellow bill and legs; hence the French name “Grive à pieds jaunes” (Yellow legs’ thrush). The Forest Thrush natural habitat is tropical moist mountain forest where you can see it from the forest canopy to the forest floor. As a cosmopolitan species, you can also see it in the understory of wooded areas. In terms of nutrition, the Forest Thrush is an insectivore and frugivore bird. Its feeding habit consists of movement across the ground with short and bouncy hops, and then it regularly pauses to listen and look for preys. When discover what it is looking for, it swings forward to pick it up with its bill. Although it is quite difficult to clearly see a Forest Thrush, its reedy and melodious singing is very powerful and can be heard form far.

The Forest thrush in Guadeloupe Archipelago

The Forest Thrush is registered on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list of threatened species and is considered as vulnerable.

The species is vulnerable and threatened for various reasons such as: Habitat deterioration, competition with new species, hunting from human beings and predators including: The mongoose or the Bothrops lanceolatus (species of pit viper). The Forest Thrush is fully protected in Dominica and Montserrat due to its sensitive status. However, in Guadeloupe Archipelago hunting is allowed.

In addition to the multiple threats mentioned above, the Forest Thrush is also highly subject to contamination caused by chlordecone (persistent organochlorine pesticide).

Fortunately, some organisations that are targeting the protection of Guadeloupe Archipelago fauna are putting all their efforts to preserve the biodiversity and prohibit the hunting. Hopefully, they will be able to get some satisfaction any time soon in order to prevent the hunting permanently. The Forest Thrush is one of the most iconic birds in Guadeloupe Archipelago and I hope it will stay for a long time.

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