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Swainson's Thrush


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#1 Anonymous

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Posted 11 September 2005 - 07:48 AM

Hi,

I'm brand new to Percevia, but am really loving this site. Thank you! Per the first bird you've described:

I live in Chicago in an older, northwest side, old-growth neighborhood that is full of pines and firs and 100+ year old trees. I am also fortunate to have many bird and nature-loving neighbors.

This past week I've been spending alot of time trying to identify a pair of birds that I've never seen before. They are having a great feast at the virginia creeper on my back fence eating lots of berries, but I've observed insects in their beaks too.

Here' the description

Small, slender 6", upright perching bird, uniformly olive on the upper parts and head, distinct white eyering, white underparts with heavy streaking from beak down to mid chest, pinkish legs and pointed darkish bill, notched tail and white feathers slightly showing at very side edges of tail, When perching on the fence, they seem to hold their longish wings a bit away from their bodies - almost like the wings are hanging down. I believe these are migrating Swainson's thrushes. I'm trying hard to hear their calls, but living in the city - it's a little noisy.

Any thoughts or suggestions on what more to look for to identify? Thanks again.



#2 goofy166

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Posted 11 September 2005 - 08:45 AM

Kate: Your description is outstanding, I wish everyone was so observant. I ran the bird description through the search engine and came up with these five birds:

Cape May Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Northern Waterthrush
 
Orange-crowned Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
 
Ovenbird
Palm Warbler
Palm Warbler

No Swainson's Thrush showed up, the engine says its color is buff not olive. Most of these have the streaking on the breast, but not all are olive exactly (color is a hard ID mark).

Here are these 5 birds in a grid.

Lets see what Dr. ID (David) says, he usually shows I am wrong, but I thought this might get you started.

I also tried starting with the notched tail as all of the above had fan shaped tails and came up with the Ruby-crowned Kinglet.



#3 Anonymous

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Posted 11 September 2005 - 10:53 AM

Thanks for your help!

If "buff" is a dark khaki color - then I think I would describe the color of this bird as that. Watching closely with bad binoculars, I really do not see any real green - but then it is not the kind of brown that one would ever call russet. It's just a drab, uniform muddy brown. There is no streaking or marks on the top of the head. Now that I'm really observing, I'd say the eyering would then be light "buffy" and not white. The throat is the same light "buffy" color that changes to white on the underparts. Streaking goes from throat through mid chest.

I rechecked the longish tail - it does have a notch. These birds are pretty quiet - they don't vocalize on the fence, but I hear peeping in the cherry tree. I did think for quite awhile that these were American pipits. I've never seen a pipit - nor any of the warblers listed above so I'm just trying to go from my books and the internet.

In my neighborhood, we have married pairs of cardinals and the usual grackles, housefinches, pigeons, starlings, juncos and Eurasian sparrows. I also get lots of goldfinches at the birdfeeder and a variety of other sparrows depending on the season. We have downy woodpeckers and swallows and some creepers and nuthatches and I've been lucky to see a pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks and a matched set of kestrals a couple of years back. West Nile decimated blue jays, crows and chickadees two years ago (and nearly killed a friend of mine!) - but, I've seen a blue jay in the neighborhood recently. I really miss the chickadees.

I'm asking for better binoculars for Christmas.

Thanks so much again for your website!



#4 David Lukas

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Posted 11 September 2005 - 09:31 PM

Kate,

Sounds like you're right on the money with your identification. Mitch has also done a great job pulling up some other species, but those five species don't eat lots of berries while that's a typical trait for thrushes at this time of year. Another excellent clue is the behavioral mark you pointed out: that your birds are holding their wings down and away from their bodies. So based on your description I would agree that these are thrushes. There are four extremely similar thrushes to sort through, but you have accurately described the uniform upperparts and distinct eyering that are the diagnostic features for a Swainson's Thrush. While they don't have notched tails or white outer tail feathers, I think this is more likely a trick of light rather than a mark for a different species, but it's your vote that counts. In order to hear them calling you could try following them at sunrise or in the late afternoon but at this time of year there's no particular reason for them to call (note: all the thrushes have very similar calls as well).

Thanks for this excellent description and observation. Maybe you could get a photograph of them at your berries to share with us?

David Lukas and Simone Whitecloud



#5 David Lukas

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Posted 13 September 2005 - 05:16 PM

Kate,

Do you want to post your question about Cardinals so that everyone in the Forum can learn about this important point?

David Lukas and Simone Whitecloud






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