Winter harmony and a nod to Aristotle

The Grey Shrike-thrush Colluricincla harmonica.

I’ve often wondered about the origin of the generic name for this species. Its melodic and varied song no doubt lead to the specific epithet harmonica, but Colluricincla remained a mystery to me until today.


Grey Shrike-thrush, Spring Hill Track, 22nd June 2015.

I came across a marvellous reference, the Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names by James Jobling, which revealed the answer.

The entry read “Colluricincla from syn. genus Collurio Rafinesque, 1815, shrike; Mod. L. cinclus thrush.” Furthermore “collurio Gr. kolluriŌn thrush-sized bird mentioned by Aristotle and Hesychius” and “cinclus Gr. kinklos small, tail-wagging, unidentified waterside bird mentioned by Aristotle, Aristophanes, Aelianus and other authors.”


The white lores identify this individual as an adult male

This beautiful woodland songster has a distinguished lineage it seems!


Aristotle never got to hear the ‘harmonic thrush’ but I suspect he would have been captivated by its song.

2 responses to “Winter harmony and a nod to Aristotle

  1. Just beautiful! Congrats Geoff for such a nice work!

  2. I’m always learning something from NN> 🙂

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