occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: RESIDENT: from Guerrero, state of Mexico, Hidalgo, eastern San Luis Potosi, central Nuevo Leon, and southern Tamaulipas south along both slopes of Middle America to northern Colombia. Casual in southern Texas (AOU 1983).
Length: 23 cm
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: Open woodland, clearings, second growth, plantations, and gardens (AOU 1983). Outside breeding season penetrates well into heavy forest, canebrakes, and dense second growth to forage, but nests in more open surroundings (Stiles and Skutch 1989). BREEDING: Nests in dense cover of tree or small bush, usually 1-4 m above ground (up to 30 m), in yards, plantations, shady pastures, hedges (Terres 1980).
Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Comments: Eats invertebrates obtained from ground, also fruits (Terres 1980); earthworms, slugs, larval and adult insects, an occasional lizard, fruits of many kinds, readily attracted to feeders (Stiles and Skutch 1989).
Life History and Behavior
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Breeds mainly in dry season in central Panama (Hilty and Brown 1986). Clutch size 2-4 (usually 203). Incubation about 12 days. Sometimes 2 broods (Costa Rica, Stiles and Skutch 1989).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Turdus grayi
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Turdus grayi
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 17
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N1 - Critically Imperiled
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
The clay-colored thrush (Turdus grayi) is a common Middle American bird of the thrush family (Turdidae). It is the national bird of Costa Rica, where it is well known as the yigüirro. Other common names include clay-colored robin.
It ranges from South Texas (where it is rapidly expanding its range) to northern Colombia; west and north of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. It is limited to the Atlantic slope, except for a population around Oaxaca City, Mexico that probably originates from escaped cagebirds.
In general appearance and habits it resembles other Turdus thrushes such as the American robin. It is about the same length or slightly smaller: 23–27 cm (9.1–10.6 in), and weighs 74–76 g (2.6–2.7 oz) on average. The plumage is brownish, somewhat lighter below than above, lightest on the flanks. Birds from humid regions are darker than those from dry regions. The throat is faintly streaked. Immature birds have faint mottling on the back and underparts. The bill is greenish-yellow with a dark base, the legs are pinkish or flesh-colored, and the irises are reddish—all useful identification points.
The song, rather low-pitched and with a slow steady tempo, consists of many slurred musical phrases which are often repeated irregularly. The tock flight call is like the American robin's but harsher.
In much of its range it is familiar in yards and gardens, similar to some other thrushes such as the American robin, the Eurasian blackbird, and the song thrush. In 1977, the Costa Ricans chose the yigüirro as a national symbol (over many much more colorful birds that inhabit the country) due to its strong and melodious song that always comes during the start of the rainy season. In addition, unlike many of the forest songsters of Costa Rica, the present bird has been familiar to the general population since the country's early history, thanks to the species' tendency to live near houses and settlements.
The clay-colored thrush usually forages for fruit or invertebrates on the ground or near it, singly or in pairs, but flocks may feed high in fruiting trees. It will follow army ants to feed on small prey disturbed by the ant columns.
It builds a heavy cup nest of grass, moss, feathers,leaves and mud on a firm support above the ground, which may include human constructions such as windowsills. It lays 2 to 4 pale blue eggs with red-brown and gray markings between March and July and may double-brood. It is aggressive in defense of its nest, having been known to mob raptors as large as golden eagles, but is not otherwise particularly territorial. Aggressive defense against brood parasites may explain why it has not evolved complete recognition of brood parasite eggs; it is one of only very few species of birds that are partial ejectors, with only about 25% of individuals ejecting parasitic eggs of the bronzed cowbird.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Turdus grayi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- "Simbolos Patrios: El Yigüirro" [National Symbols: The Clay-coloured thrush]. Museos de Costa Rica (in Spanish). Museos de Costa Rica. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
- Foster, M. S. (2007). "The potential of fruiting trees to enhance converted habitats for migrating birds in southern Mexico". Bird Conservation International (BirdLife International) 17 (1): 45–61. doi:10.1017/S0959270906000554.
- Rasmussen, J.; Sealy, S. G.; Elliott, M. F.; Elliott, K. H. (2012). "Infrequent ejection of artificial Bronzed Cowbird (Molothrus aeneus) eggs by the Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi) in Costa Rica". Ornitologia Neotropical 23 (1): 33.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Has been considered conspecific with T. nudigenis by a few authors (AOU 1983).