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Red-legged Thrush

From Opus

Puertorican subspecies. Photo by raulqcPhoto taken: Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, December 2007.
Puertorican subspecies. Photo by raulqc
Photo taken: Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, December 2007.
Turdus plumbeus


[edit] Identification

Bahamas subspecies. Photo by Canadian LadyPhoto taken: Nassau, Bahamas, January 2010.
Bahamas subspecies. Photo by Canadian Lady
Photo taken: Nassau, Bahamas, January 2010.

Generally has slate gray upperparts, red legs and bill, red eye-ring, and white corners of the tail; the tail is long and rounded or graduated. Underside is variable with some subspecies showing reddish-brown abdomen, others showing white, and others again showing gray. Throat is also variable, black, gray or white with black stripes; there seems to always be some white somewhere around the throat or chin. At least in Dominica, white outer tail feathers are visible in flight (not mentioned in field guides).

[edit] Distribution

This bird has a disjunct distribution with one population in Dominica (Lesser Antilles) and another in the Greater Antilles including Northern Bahamas, Cuba, Cayman Brac in Cayman Islands, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico.

[edit] Taxonomy

Hispaniolan form. Photo by Juan Estevez.Photo taken: Santiago, Dominican Republic.
Hispaniolan form. Photo by Juan Estevez.
Photo taken: Santiago, Dominican Republic.

In total, there are six subspecies, with some distinct differences in plumage. It would seem prudent to do more research on the taxonomic status of these taxons. A seventh taxon is most often treated as a separate species, the Grand Cayman Thrush, which became extinct between 1916 and the 1960ties.

This species has previously been considered to belong to a different genus and therefore had the scientific name Mimocichla plumbea; Johnston (1969) argued for this treatment. DNA results support this species belonging within the Turdus thrushes, unless these are to be split into several genera.

[edit] Habitat

In e.g., Puerto Rico seems to prefer the higher elevation, wetter forests, while on e.g., Dominica it likes the lower elevation dryer scrub-forest.

[edit] Behaviour

As described by Vaurie (1957), at least the subspecies rubripes in Cuba shows some behavior patterns that would be more typical of thrashers than most Turdus thrushes, including holding the tail kinked upwards when alert, and looking similar to a large catbird when moving around on the ground or through undergrowth. The male, when trying to impress the female, will flash his wings in a short display similar to what is seen in Northern Mockingbird.

Song is described as similar to La Selle Thrush; however, Red-legged Thrush should regularly include a sharp pit or wit sound missing in song of La Selle Thrush.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, JF. 2009. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2009. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019.
  2. C Vaurie (1957) FIELD NOTES ON SOME CUBAN BIRDS. The Wilson Bull. 69:301-313.
  3. DW Johnston (1969) The thrushes of Grand Cayman Island, BWI. The Condor 71:120-128.
  4. Clement and Hathway (with C. Byers, J. Wilczur). 2000. The Thrushes (Helm Identification Guides). Christopher Helm Publishers Ltd. London. ISBN 978-0713639407

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