Spotted Ground Thrush

This rare spotted bird is unassuming and difficult to locate in the dappled shadows of the forest. It has a very small range and is limited to coastal forests and scarp, making them a rare find.


The Spotted Ground Thrush is distributed sparsely in South Eastern Africa with the majority of reported sightings coming from the East Coast of South Africa. Here it can be found from the Eastern Cape to the Northern Kwazulu-Natal Coastline.

Where To Find

The Spotted Ground Thrush lives only in coastal and lowland forests and adjacent thickets with full cover where they can be found low in the canopy, or hopping on the ground foraging for food through the dried fallen leaf litter. Their camouflage makes them particularly difficult to detect in this habitat.

How To Id

The spotted nature of this thrush makes it quite distinctive. It could be confused with the Groundscraper thrush, but the forest habitat would excluded these birds from the equation. However, they are hard to locate. Your best bet is to stand quietly in some of the lowland forests (Dlinza/Ongoye) and listen for scratching in the leaf litter. They also make a soft contact call which is a high pitched "Swiiii" sound. The local Zulu name for this bird is 'umuNswi', named after this contact call.


The Spotted Ground Thrush is regarded as endangered with an estimated population of a few thousand and decreasing population. The destruction of coastal and lowland forest habitat are partly to blame for this as well as monkeys eating their nests due to the reduction in predatory Crowned Eagles in the regions - this combined with its brilliant camouflage and elusive manner make the Spotted Ground Thrush a particularly rare sighting.

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Junior Gabela is a real expert on the Spotted Ground Thrush and knows their behaviour, contact calls and habitat, as well as specific good spots to see them. If you are looking to see this rare bird or add it to your life-list, book a tour and add it to your wishlist!