Saturday, September 15, 2012

Thrush Identification: Swainson's, Gray-cheeked, and Veery

During migration, thrushes can pose one of the biggest challenges as well as one of the best opportunities to birders for learning thrush identification.  All of the species mix during migration and you can find all three of the species discussed here, right next to each other for direct comparison.  The two most similar thrushes are the Swainson's and Gray-cheeked, the other thrush species discussed, the Veery, is fairly distinct.  For the Swainson's and Gray-cheeked the identification all comes down to the face pattern.


  • rich, rufous head and back
  • limited, faded spotting
  • weak eye-ring
  • spotting and back/head color are the same
To see the photographer's photostream go to: 

Swainson's Thrush

  • distinct, buffy eyering
  • buffy chest and sides of neck
  • plain brown back and tail that match in color
  • slightly darker spotting than back/head color
BI100504-061 Swainson's Thrush
To see the photographer's photostream go to:

Gray-cheeked Thrush

  • weak eyering that is whitish
  • clean whitish background to the spotting on the chest
  • spotting slightly darker 
BI100504-037 Gray-cheeked Thrush
To see the photographer's photostream go to:

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