Ashy Thrush Geokichla cinerea


Justification of Red List Category
The continuing rapid reduction in the area of lowland forest throughout this species's range, coupled with more localised trapping pressure, is thought to be causing a rapid population decline. However, this species is known to be tolerant of secondary habitats, and may be more widespread than is currently thought. It is therefore listed as Vulnerable, pending better information on population size and distribution.

Population justification
The population size is preliminarily suspected to fall into the band 10,000-19,999 individuals. This equates to 6,667-13,333 mature individuals, rounded here to 6,000-15,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A rapid population decline is suspected to be occurring as a result of continuing habitat clearance throughout the species's range. However, given the species's apparent tolerance of secondary habitats, declines may be less drastic than currently thought.

Distribution and population

Geokichla cinerea is endemic to the Philippines, where it is known from north and central Luzon and northern Mindoro. It is considered uncommon overall and was found to be scarce in the Sierra Madre mountains during surveys in the early 1990s. A recent review mapped just 25 sites, of which only 15 involved post-1980 records. At Dalton Pass on Luzon, 130 birds were trapped between 1964 and 1970. It is tolerant of secondary habitats, and is known to be secretive and therefore probably under-recorded, so it could prove to be more abundant and widespread than previously thought.


It inhabits the floor, in particularly open patches of primary, selectively logged and secondary forests, mainly in the lowlands (e.g. 90-360 m on Mindoro). It has been recorded up to 1,100 m in the Sierra Madre mountains on Luzon. It also occurs on limestone outcrops, ridgetops, mossy forests, and forests with rattan understorey (Collar 2020). The large numbers caught at the Dalton Pass (1,560 m) migration funnel suggest either post-breeding dispersal or regular movement between the Sierra Madre and Cordillera Central, in response to differences in the rainy season. It has been recorded breeding in La Mesa Ecopark, Metro Manila (Constantino and Canlas 2012). Several other locations have also been recorded for this species, in the Laoag in Ilocos Norte, Northern Luzon, and Itogon in Cordillera Central, South Central Sierra Madre in Quezon (A. Constantino in litt. 2020). Its diet consists of figs and insects (Collar 2020). 


Deforestation is the primary threat. In 1988, an estimated 24% of Luzon remained forested. Forest cover in the Sierra Madre has declined by c.80% since the 1930s and most remaining areas are under logging concession. Major road building plans pose a further threat. Illegal logging is frequent at Angat Dam and Quezon National Park, two key sites for the species. In 1988, an estimated 8.5% (c.120 km2) of Mindoro remained forested, most at too high an altitude for the species. It may also suffer from hunting with snares in the Sierra Madre and illicit bird-trapping at Dalton Pass may exert a considerable pressure.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park and nominal protection is afforded by the national park status of Mts Makiling and Quezon. On Mindoro, it is known from San Vicente, which is targeted for reforestation and rattan plantation by concession holders. Funding has been provided for faunal inventories and environmental education initiatives at Puerto Galera.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to quantify the population size and to determine the distribution. Conduct research into its seasonal movements. Monitor the population trend. Propose key sites for designation as formal protected areas (e.g. Angat Watershed on Luzon, South Central Sierra Madre bordering Real and Infanta, Quezon on Luzon and Puerto Galera on Mindoro). Extend the Sierra Madre Mountains Natural Park to include Mt Los Dos Cuernos. Introduce measures to restrict bird-trapping at Dalton Pass.


18 cm. Small, shy, ground-dwelling thrush. Ashy-grey head and upperparts. Usually shows pale lores and two blackish bars on face, one through eye, one on rear of ear-coverts. Darker grey wings with two prominent white wing-bars. Outer tail feathers tipped white. White underparts with blackish malar, heavy black spotting/streaking on upper breast and large black spots on belly and flanks. White undertail-coverts. Very pale legs. Similar spp. Pechora Pipit Anthus gustavi is smaller and streakier and lacks distinctive ashy upperparts. Voice Typical, melodious thrush-like warbling phrases. Hints Comes onto trails at first light.


Text account compilers
Fernando, E.

Allen, D., Benstead, P., Constantino, A., Derhé, M., Gilroy, J., Heaney, L., Khwaja, N. & Westrip, J.R.S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Geokichla cinerea. Downloaded from on 10/08/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 10/08/2022.