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Bicknell's Thrush


IUCN Conservation Status: Vulnerable

Only recently considered a separate species from the Gray-cheeked Thrush, the Bicknell's Thrush has one of the most restricted breeding and wintering ranges of any North American bird.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
6.3–6.7 in
16–17 cm
0.9–1.1 oz
26–30 g
Other Names
  • Grive de Bicknell (French)
  • Zorzal migratorio, Tordo de Bicknell (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Bicknell's Thrush has an unusual mating system. Both males and females mate with different partners. Each nest has young from different males, and males may have young in several nests. More than one male feeds at most nests.
  • Males do not hold strict territories, and several different males may sing from the same area within one hour.
  • The oldest recorded Bicknell's Thrush was a male, and over 11 years, 11 months, when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Vermont.



  • Breeds in montane fir and spruce forests, usually associated with recently disturbed areas.
  • Winters in broadleaf montane forests.



Insects and other arthropods, fruit.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–4 eggs
Egg Description
Bluish green with light brown speckling.
Condition at Hatching
Naked and helpless.
Nest Description

Open cup of twigs and moss in small tree.

Nest Placement



Ground Forager


status via IUCN


Population data are difficult to gather for Bicknell's Thrush, but because of the small range and restricted habitat, this species is considered a high conservation priority. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 110,500, with 50% spending some part of the year in the U.S., and 50% breeding in Canada. The species rates a 17 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Bicknell's Thrush is a Tri-National Concern species, a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species, and is on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action.


  • Rimmer, C. C., K. P. McFarland, W. G. Ellison, and J. E Goetz. Bicknell's Thrush (Catharus bicknelli). In The Birds of North America, No. 592 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
  • North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee. 2014. State of the Birds 2014 Report. U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, DC.
  • Partners in Flight. 2012. Species assessment database.
  • USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. 2015. Longevity records of North American Birds.

Range Map Help

View dynamic map of eBird sightings

You Might Also Like

Rats! A Menace for Bicknell's Thrushes: Story in BirdScope.

Mercury Rising: Story in Living Bird magazine.

All About Birds Blog, ID Workshop: Use 4 Basic Keys Plus Migration Timing to Sort Out Your Thrushes, April 2014.



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