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Psophocichla litsitsirupa (Groundscraper thrush) 

[= Turdus litsitsirupa

Gevlekte lyster [Afrikaans]; Mugendasikarapi (generic term for thrush) [Kwangali]; Xihandzamatala [Tsonga]; Letsetserôpa, Letsotsonôpo [Tswana]; Merle litsipsirupa [French]; Akaziendrossel [German]; Tordo-de-peito-malhado [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Muscicapidae

Psophocichla litsitsirupa (Groundscraper thrush)  Psophocichla litsitsirupa (Groundscraper thrush) 

Groundscraper thrush. [photo Johann du Preez ©]

Groundscraper thrush, Nylsvlei, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

It has two separate populations in sub-Saharan Africa; one from Eritrea to Ethiopia and the other, larger population stretches from Tanzania and southern DRC through Angola and Zambia to southern Africa. Here it is locally common across much of the northern half of the region, generally preferring open woodland, such as miombo (Brachystegia) and Mopane (Colosphermum mopane), more rarely in fine-leaved Acacia woodland. It also occurs in sandveld, gardens, playing fields and commercial orchards.

Distribution of Groundscraper thrush in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


It mainly eats insects, plucking them from ground with short grass tufts, scratching and scraping in leaf litter. It occasionally forages aerially, often taking insects flushed by bushfires. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Animals


  • The nest (see image below) is a cup of which the composition varies from region to region; it most commonly builds a bowl of pliable stems, but it can also be built of grass, rootlets and weeds secured with spider web and lined with feathers, or of leaves lined with midribs of Acacia leaves. It is typically placed in a vertical or horizontal fork against the tree trunk, often near the nests of Fork-tailed drongos, as it is thought that they take advantage of the drongo's aggressive nest defence tactics.
Psophocichla litsitsirupa (Groundscraper thrush)  

Groundscraper thrush nest with eggs, Modimolle, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]

  • Egg-laying season is from August-March, peaking from September-November.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 14-15 days.
  • The chicks are cared for by both parents, leaving the nest after about 16 days. The fledglings usually remain dependent on their parents for 6 weeks after leaving, and they may even beg for food after their parents next brood has hatched. The parents are extremely dedicated in their defence of the young, sometimes attacking human intruders who come to close to the nest.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

  • Harrison, J.A., Allan, D.G., Underhill, L.G., Herremans, M., Tree. A.J., Parker, V. & Brown, C.J. (eds). 1997. The atlas of southern African birds. Vol. 2: Passerines. BirdLife South Africa, Johannesburg.