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Swainson's Thrush - BirdForum Opus

Nominate subspecies
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
San Bruno Mountain, San Mateo County, California, USA, 8 May 2020
Catharus ustulatus


16–20 cm (6¼-7¾ in)

  • Brown upperparts (olive-brown on Eastern birds, reddish-brown on Western birds)
  • White underparts
  • Brown flanks
  • Lighter brown breast with darker spots
  • Pink legs
  • Light brown eye ring
Subspecies swainsoni
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Wildsumaco Lodge, Napo Province, Ecuador, 26 January 2016


Breeds virtually throughout North America from Alaska to California. Wintering in the West Indies, and Central and South America from Mexico to Argentina.



Six subspecies are recognised[1]:

  • C. u. ustulatus:
  • C. u. phillipsi:
  • C. u. oedicus:
  • Breeds in California (coast ranges east to the west slope of the Sierra Nevada); winters from north-western Mexico south to Nicaragua


  • C. u. incanus:
  • Breeds in central and eastern Alaska and north-western Canada (south to northern British Columbia and north central Alberta); winters in South America (Colombia to Peru)
  • C. u. appalachiensis:
  • C. u. swainsoni:
  • Breeds from western Canada (British Columbia and Alberta) south to Great Basin region and north central and north-eastern northern United States (north of the range of appalachiensis) and east to eastern Canada; winters from Panama south to Bolivia and north-western Argentina


Coniferous and mixed woodland. Douglas fir on coasts.



Their diet consists mostly of invertebrates and fruit.


They build a cup nest on a horizontal tree branch.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Mack, D. E. and W. Yong (2020). Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.swathr.01
  3. Wikipedia contributors. (2020, March 12). Swainson's thrush. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:10, May 12, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Swainson%27s_thrush&oldid=945174666
  4. BirdForum member observations
  5. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 2019. Swainson's Thrush in: All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/ Accessed on 12May 2020.

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1