My previous post showed the amazing warbler day that we had at Braddock Bay Bird Observatory on Monday. But note that the warblers were not the only family of birds that we caught!! We had just as wonderful of a day with 4 species of thrush.
We were lucky to have a few Hermit Thrush while at the banding station. They are identified by their thinner eye-ring, reddish brown tail (and rump), large spots half way down the breast with a dull brown black head and reddish brown primaries.
While closely exploring the Hermit Thrush . . . . we had one of the banders bring us another thrush species (and she was smiling while handing it to us)! This thrush was very large in size, short tail, and cleaner white breast with heavy spots on it. It was quite obvious that this bird they brought us was our only Woodthrush observed that day (High Five).
We did observe numerous Swainson’s Thrush and they are a little trickier to identify in the hand. They can be confused with a few other species out in the field. But, they do have a shorter bill, olive brown upper parts and its smaller spots on their upper half of the beast. Looking for Hermits reddish brown tail and primaries is one way to easily distinguish the Swainson’s from the Hermit. But looking at the Swainson’s eye-ring is the easiest way to determine if it is a Gray-cheeked or not. But taking numerous measurements is always the best way to determine which species is which (although there is some overlapping zones).
The Gray-cheeked Thrush was probably one of our most numerous thrushes captured on Monday. They have very monotone upper parts with fine spots on its breast and some pale gray areas around their eye. Although whenever banding a Gray-cheeked Thrush . . . . you always want to take measurements because if the bird is small enough . . . . It’s very possible that you could have a Bicknell’s Thrush in your hand. Although there is some over-lap with the measurements and on numerous occasions you need to list the bird as a “Gray-cheeked/Bicknell’s Species”.
One of the thrushes that we didn’t see on Monday was the Veery. I couldn’t do this long description of thrushes without posting a picture of the Veery (photo above is from this summer). They can be identified by having no noticeable eye-ring, very weak breast spotting and the spotting is located only on the upper breast. Maybe when we return in the spring we will be able to see some or all these thrushes again. I promise tomorrows post will have many other great birdies!