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Overview

Brief Summary

Catharus ustulatus

Grayer overall than most of its North American relatives, Swainson’s Thrush (7 inches) is most easily separated from a similar species, the Gray-cheeked Thrush, by its buff-brown cheeks and conspicuous eye-rings. Other field marks include a spotted breast, pink legs, and a medium-length bill. Male and female Swainson’s Thrushes are similar to one another in all seasons. The Swainson’s Thrush breeds in Alaska and across a wide swath of central and southern Canada. Smaller numbers are found south of the Canadian border, particularly along the Pacific coast and at higher elevations in the Appalachians and the Rocky Mountains. Swainson’s Thrush winters in southern Mexico and Central America south to Argentina. In summer, Swainson’s Thrush breeds primarily in evergreen forests dominated by spruce and fir trees. During the winter, this species inhabits wet tropical forests. On migration, Swainson’s Thrush may be found in a variety of habitats with dense undergrowth available for foraging and cover. Many North American birders never travel far south enough to see Swainson’s Thrush in winter. This species is much easier to observe in summer and on migration, although it is more often heard than seen due to its preference for habitats with thick vegetation. Swainson’s Thrush may be observed foraging food while hopping along the forest floor or through the branches of trees. Swainson’s Thrush is most active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.

Threat Status: Least Concern

  • Catharus ustulatus. Xeno-canto. Xeno-canto Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012. .
  • Mack, Diane Evans and Wang Yong. 2000. Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/540
  • Peterson, Roger Tory. Birds of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980. Print.
  • Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus). The Internet Bird Collection. Lynx Edicions, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012. .
  • eBird Range Map - Swainson's Thrush. eBird. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, N.d. Web. 20 July 2012. .
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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Nesting range extends from western and central Alaska across all of Canada (north to north-central Yukon, southern Northwest Territories (Great Bear Lake), northern Manitoba, nnorthern Ontario, north-central Quebec to about 54°N, central Labrador, and northern Newfoundland), and south through Pacific coast states to southern California, south through the Rocky Mountains to Arizona and northern New Mexico, south in the Great Plains and Great Lakes regions to eastern Montana, Black Hills of South Dakota, southern Saskatchewan, and northern Minnesota, and south in eastern North America to northern Pennsylvania, New England, and disjunctly to Virginia (Mack and Yong 2000). Range during the northern winter is mainly in Mexico and northern South America (east of the Andes in Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, eastern Peru, northern and eastern Bolivia, and northwestern Argentina, with a few records from western Amazonian Brazil and coastal southwestern Peru) (Ridgely and Tudor 1989); also occurs in smaller numbers in Central America (Mack and Yong 2000).

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Physical Description

Size

Length: 18 cm

Weight: 31 grams

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: Breeding habitat includes dense vegetation in coniferous forests, mixed hardwood-conifer forests (e.g., across Canada and northern New England, predominantly hardwood forests (e.g., in Northeast), riparian woodland and thickets of willow or alder (e.g., California and other western states at south end of range), aspen forests (e.g. southwest part of range), and sometimes coastal scrub (California) (Mack and Yong 2000). Depending on the location, this species may be associated with young, mature, or old growth (see Mack and Wong 2000). Range-wide, nesting occurs at elevations from sea level to 2,600 meters or higher. Nests usually are in small trees, close to the trunk, often 2 meters or less above ground; often in conifers, sometimes deciduous trees or shrubs (e.g., willow).

During migration, this species uses a wide range of wooded and shrubby habitats, generally with thick undergrowth.

During the boreal winter, Swainson's thrushes inhabit a wide range of conditions that may vary with region, including primary forest, mature selva forest, tropical semideciduous forest, humid to semihumid evergreen and semideciduous forest (including pine-oak, coniferous, tropical deciduous, and cloud forest), secondary growth, and forest-pasture edges, and human-made openings with ornamental shrubs (see Mack and Yong 2000).

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

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: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Abundant migrant in Costa Rica, mid-September to November and April-late May (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Most common migrant thrush in Colombia; transient and winter resident in South America early October-late April (Hilty and Brown 1986).

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Eats insects and other invertebrates, small fruits, seeds (Terres 1980). Very frugivorous in migration and during northern winter, sometimes concentrates in large numbers near fruiting trees and shrubs (Hilty and Brown 1986). In Costa Rica, eats many fruits and arillate seeds, relatively few insects and other invertebrates; may forage along edge of army ant swarms (Stiles and Skutch 1989).

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: > 300

Comments: This species is represented by a large number of occurrences (subpopulations).

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Global Abundance

>1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Total adult population size is unknown but certainly exceeds 1,000,000. Rich et al. (2004) estimated population size at 100,000,000.

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General Ecology

Nonbreeding: solitary or in loose flocks in migration (Stiles and Skutch 1989, Rappole and Warner 1980).

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Comments: May sing day and night in Alaska.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 11 years Observations: These animals can live up to 11 years in the wild (Blumstein and Moller 2008).
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Reproduction

Clutch size usually is 3-4. Incubation, by female, lasts 10-14 days. Young are tended by both parents, leave nest at 10-14 days.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Catharus ustulatus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 30 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

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.

GGTACTGCCCTA---AGCCTTCTCATCCGAGCAGAACTAGGCCAACCAGGCGCACTACTAGGTGAC---GACCAAATCTACAATGTAGTTGTCACCGCCCACGCCTTCGTAATGATTTTCTTTATAGTTATGCCAATCATGATTGGGGGGTTCGGAAACTGGCTAGTCCCATTAATA---ATCGGAGCCCCAGACATAGCATTCCCCCGAATAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTTCTCCCACCATCATTCCTCCTTCTCCTAGCCTCCTCCACAGTAGAAGCAGGAGCAGGAACAGGATGGACCGTCTATCCACCCCTCGCTGGCAACCTAGCACACGCAGGAGCCTCAGTCGACCTA---GCTATTTTCTCCCTCCACTTAGCAGGAATCTCCTCAATCCTAGGGGCCATCAATTTCATTACTACAGCAATCAACATAAAACCTCCAGCCCTCTCACAATACCAAACCCCCCTATTCGTGTGATCAGTACTAATCACTGCAGTGCTACTCCTCCTCTCCCTCCCCGTCCTTGCCGCT---GGCATCACCATACTTCTCACCGACCGCAACCTAAACACTACCTTCTTCGACCCAGCAGGAGGAGGAGACCCAGTACTTTACCAACACCTA------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------TTC
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Catharus ustulatus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 31
Specimens with Barcodes: 44
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

History
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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