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Bird Gallery

Swainson's Thrush

Swainson's Thrush
Swainson's Thrush

© Greg Lavaty. Photographed at High Island.

Catharus ustulatus

Family: (Turdidae) Thrushes

Preferred Habitat: Moist woodlands

Seasonal Occurrence: Common in spring; uncommon in fall.

Profile by Vicki Stittleburg: Named after William Swainson, a zoologist and illustrator in the early 19th century, the Swainson's Thrush is the most common of the migrant thrushes to be found in our area. The Swainson's Thrush has gray-brown upperparts, pale underparts with spots arranged in streaks on the throat and breast, a white throat bordered on each side with a dark brown stripe, and large buffy eyerings that extend in front of the eye, creating spectacles.

A bird of the forest, the Swainson's Thrush gleans vegetation and forages on the ground for insect prey. It also consumes fruit such as elderberries, blackberries, raspberries, and huckleberries.

The Swainson's Thrush is best known for its distinctive song, a series of flute-like, ascending spiraling notes
that breeding males use to defend nests and territory and also probably to attract mates. Texas birders are more likely to hear a peep note that may be mistaken for the call of a spring peeper frog that the Swainson's Thrush utters during migration.