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Merlin Bird ID

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    Swainson's Thrush Identification

    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.