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BBBO Thrush

The 3 Thrushes
Hermit, Gray-cheeked and Swainson’s by Young Naturalist J

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.

Hermit Thrush
Hermit Thrush by Young Naturalist J

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.

Hermit and Wood Thrush
Hermit and Wood Thrush by Young Naturalist J

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).

Swainson's Thrush
Swainson’s Thrush

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).

Gray-cheeked Thrush
Gray-cheeked Thrush

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”.

Veery Photo From July 2007

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!

19 responses

  1. I’m definitely checking this post if I ever see a thrush. Bird ID can be so difficult, your nice clear pictures are an immense help.

    26 September 2007 at 10:06 pm

  2. You know what? Everyone is enamoured with the warblers but I think I enjoy the beauty of the thrushes more. Your photos are just wonderful.

    26 September 2007 at 10:30 pm

  3. Awesome – I love the three-species comparison at the top.

    26 September 2007 at 10:31 pm

  4. Again another wonderful classroom of information on bird species. I’ll be back tomorrow. Still loving those close up photos.

    26 September 2007 at 10:38 pm

  5. These birds are so beautiful, love the Swainson’s Thrush, great work Tom.

    26 September 2007 at 11:14 pm

  6. I know they have to be held to be banded, but I hate the look in their eyes when they are being held. It has to be a very scary thing for them to go through. I wonder if they are scared of not being set free. ~nita~

    26 September 2007 at 11:53 pm

  7. Wow, very cool – all 3 of the thrushes in the 1st photo would be lifers for me (Varied & Hermit Thrushes and of course Robins are the only ones usually seen around here).

    I continue to marvel at how awesome it must be to be so intimate with so many birds – you’re a lucky guy!

    27 September 2007 at 1:16 am

  8. The veery is my very favorite thrush. I love their calls .

    27 September 2007 at 9:03 am

  9. You gotta love the thrushes. Beautiful to look at; mesmerizing to hear. I already miss their summer calls that greeted me each morning and at dusk each night.

    27 September 2007 at 10:26 am

  10. These are fabulous shots Monarch – it’s amazing how similar the details is on the birds (this may explain part of why I feel like such a novice at id’ing birds) such minute details to perceive. This of course makes me so grateful for sites like your. Wow these photos once again – mind-blowing!

    27 September 2007 at 1:46 pm

  11. What a fine gathering of thrushes you have. Nothing says summer to me the way the Swainson’s Thrush song does. It may be my most favorite song. Every now and then one comes down and quickly bathes in our pond, but that’s the only time we see them. We know they are here by their song.

    27 September 2007 at 2:12 pm

  12. OMG Tom, I *love* these thrushes! They’re so beautiful up close. Thanks to you and J for showing us such wonderful close-ups and providing details! Wow – can’t wait to see what else you saw on Monday!!

    27 September 2007 at 6:06 pm

  13. Wow, Tom, it’s so neat to see all those thrushes. They are so reclusive around here because of no big woods nearby. Now that you’ve shown 3 species all together I know I would have a difficult time identifying any of them correctly (unless I was lucky enough to hear them singing)

    27 September 2007 at 7:28 pm

  14. @ Barb – sweet and hope it helps!
    @ Mary- These thrush are fun for sure but I do love the warblers.
    @ Nick – thanks and I did love that shot also!
    @ Toni – thanks and I also loved today’s post!
    @ Bernie – Thanks and they are faves of mine also!
    @ nita – I get asked this question many times and they may get a little stressed, I have also had birds sing in my hand and even catch bugs while holding.
    @ Adam – thanks and it is great! You should look for some banders in your area!
    @ threecollie – they are great birds for sure!
    @ Zen – thanks and I am sad to say that they don’t sing around my home. But, I do enjoyed hearing them while out on my hikes.
    @ aullori – thanks and they are very similar. You are too kind!
    @ robin – I so agree about the Swainson’s thrush song! Thanks
    @ Pam – Thanks for your kind words and I two love them up close!
    @ Ruthie – Thanks and it was for sure! They can be hard to ID but as long as you look up close you can figure it out.

    27 September 2007 at 8:29 pm

  15. Marg

    This is a great Thrush lesson!

    28 September 2007 at 12:01 pm

  16. 2 of those would be lifers for me (veery, gray-cheeked thrush). I think I might have to contact my buddy who’s a naturalist down here to see if he’s doing any migration netting…

    28 September 2007 at 12:32 pm

  17. Amazing photos. I wonder what the birds think about everything going on.

    Have a wonderful weekend, my friend. 🙂

    28 September 2007 at 2:19 pm

  18. I have a hard enough time getting a good look at them, let alone measuring them.-That is nice detailed comparison report on Thrushes-thanks!

    30 September 2007 at 4:57 pm

  19. @ Marg – thanks!
    @ Marty – very cool and hope he is!
    @ Lisa – thanks and I did!
    @ Larry – they can be hard to id sometimes! Thanks

    30 September 2007 at 11:06 pm

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