Swainson's Thrush

Catharus ustulatus




Thrushes (Turdidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Pale blue with brown flecks

Number of Eggs:

3 - 5

Incubation Days:

12 - 14

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

In trees or shrubs., On branch close to trunk of conifer.

Nest Material:

Sticks, moss, leaves, plant fibers and bark with occasional middle layer of mud., Lined with lichens, dried leaves and rootlets.





Swainson's Thrush: Medium-sized thrush (swainsoni),with dull olive-brown or olive-gray upperparts, pale buff eye-ring, dark moustache stripe, brown-spotted buff throat and breast, and white belly. Legs and feet are pink-gray. Sexes are similar.

Range and Habitat

Swainson's Thrush: Breeds from Alaska east across Canada to Newfoundland, south to British Columbia and along the west coast and Rocky Mountains, and also in northern New England. During migration, it may occur throughout North American and the Caribbean. Spends winters in tropics, from central Mexico south. Prefers coniferous forests and willow thickets.

Breeding and Nesting

Swainson's Thrush: Three to five pale blue eggs, usually flecked with brown, are laid in a nest made of sticks, moss, leaves, plant fibers, and bark, a middle layer of mud, and lined with lichens, dried leaves, and rootlets. Nest is built close to the trunk on a conifer branch, usually from 4 to 20 feet above the ground. Incubation ranges from 12 to 14 days and is carried out by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

Swainson's Thrush: Eats insects, snails, and earthworms; also takes fruits and berries during fall migration. Forages near the ground, but higher in understory than other thrushes; occasionally catches insects in mid-air. Follows army ant swarms in winter.

Readily Eats

Raisins, Nut Meal


Swainson's Thrush: Song is an upward series of thin, musical, varied whistling notes repeated at intervals without change. Call is a sharp "whit" or hollow "peep."

Similar Species

Swainson's Thrush: Hermit Thrush has white eye ring, rufous tail, browner back, lacks buff face, and is the only Catharus species in most of North America in winter.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
The upper front part of a bird.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X