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Swainson's Thrush Identification

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The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    Swainson’s Thrushes are medium-sized thrushes—slim songbirds with round heads and short, straight bills. Their fairly long wings and medium-length tail can make the back half of the bird appear long.

    Relative Size

    Smaller than an American Robin; larger than a White-throated Sparrow.

    Relative Sizebetween sparrow and robinbetween sparrow and robin

    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 6.3-7.5 in (16-19 cm)
      • Weight: 0.8-1.6 oz (23-45 g)
      • Wingspan: 11.4-12.2 in (29-31 cm)

Regional Differences

Swainson’s Thrushes that breed in the Pacific states (often called the “Russet-backed” Thrush) are rusty-brown above, with thinner, paler eyerings and medium-brown chest spotting. The widespread eastern and northern form (often called “Olive-backed Thrush”) is common east of the Cascades/Sierra Nevada.