SWAINSON’S THRUSH(Catharus ustulatus)

The Swainson’s Thrush has a melodius and crystalline song, as with other notable members of its family. It is around 18 cm (7 in.) long. The upper parts are medium brown, and the under parts are creamy white, with brown streaks on the breast. The bill is short and dark grey, and the legs are pinkish grey. Sexes are similar. The bird is not necessarily easy to locate from its song, as it has peculiar acoustic qualities, making it sound from a further location for example, and also due to the bird moving from branch to branch while singing.

This species of thrush is found mainly in coniferous forests, and it will avoid areas of human activity such as suburban areas. A related species, the Hermit Thrush, might overlap with the Swainson’s trush when they occupy the same territory, to the detriment of the latter in areas close to human activity.

The diet of this species includes insects that they forage on the forest ground, and berries when available.

The Swainson’s thrush was named in honor of a British ornithologist, William Swainson. The Latin name ‘Catharus’ is from ancient Greek and means ‘pure’ (possibly referring to the song of an old world related species). The Latin ‘ustulatus’ refers to the brown plumage, and it means ‘singed’. The origin of ‘Thrush’ appears to stem from the Greek word ‘trizo’, to ‘twitter’.

The Swainson’s thrush breeds on PEI, and is fairly common in spring and summer on the island. It is uncommon in the fall, and so far for the winter there have been no sightings. It is widespread in the Maritimes. Its overall breeding range includes the boreal forests of Canada and Alaska. It migrates south of its breeding range in the USA, and in Mexico and most of South America.

Swainson's Thrush - Charlie Lake, BC - May 18, 2009 - Gerry
Swainson’s Thrush – Charlie Lake, BC – May 18, 2009 – Gerry
Swainson's Thrush, front view - South Padre Island, TX - Apr. 21, 2013 - TonyCastro
Swainson’s Thrush, front view – South Padre Island, TX – Apr. 21, 2013 – Tony Castro