The Pale Thrush is a winter bird with behavior similar to that of its close relative the Naumann's Thrush. The Pale Thrush has a whitish pattern on its belly, which is where it gets its name, while the Naumann's Thrush has a spotted pattern. It is often seen around bushes or thick greenery and, unlike the Naumann's Thrush, is rarely seen in open areas. Its songs are a timid “Shee” and a shrill “Ko-Ko-Ko”. This photo of a male shows an uncommon instance of a Pale Thrush out in the open.
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The Pale Thrush usually cries out when it flies away, but if you want to spot it before it takes flight, you should listen for the sound of rustling fallen leaves. Like the Japanese Bush Warbler, the Pale Thrush likes shade and does better without human interference.
Some plants grow better after the surrounding undergrowth is cut back and some birds, such as the White-cheeked Starling and the White Wagtail, like to live in these tidy areas. However, clearing away undergrowth affects the worms and bugs that need dark bushes and fallen leaves to survive the winter. And it makes another affects that the Pale Thrushes and Red-flanked Bluetails may not survive, because the birds need the worms and bugs for food.
Japan is a narrow country, but it has a diverse geographical distribution of birds, whether on islands, in the eastern and western parts, or southern or northern parts. Most Pale Thrushes, along with the Whistling Swan, the Herring Gull and the Japanese Waxwing, spend the winter in the western part of Japan. Meanwhile the Whooper Swan, the Slaty Backed Gull and the Bohemian Waxwing tend to spend the winter in the eastern part of Japan. In western Japan, where there tends to be a lot of birds, Pale Thrushes can sometimes be seen in open areas. The environment's population density may be the reason some of them live outside of their preferred habitats.
In Shimane Prefecture and Nagasaki Prefecture, particularly Tsushima Island, the beautiful song of the Pale Thrush is sometimes heard and there are even recorded instances of breeding. Its breeding grounds—the Ussuri region of Russia, China and the Korean Peninsula—are not very far north so it is likely that at some point they will be seen raising their young in Japan.
In Japan, the Pale Thrush was once called “konohagaeshi,” or leaf turner. It shakes its bill from left to right to remove fallen leaves and eat the worms, bugs and seeds underneath. The female doesn't have a blackish face, as this photo.
This is a Brown Thrush. While it is similar to the Pale Thrush, it has a brownish color from its chest to its sides. During the spring and summer, it breeds in the mountains of the northern part of Japan. And during the fall and winter, it often stays in bushes in low mountains and low land of the southern parts of Japan, like the Pale Thrush.