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What kind of thrush? - Cambridge, Boston, 04/27/2021 (1 Viewer)

lunluochichu

New member
United States
Hi, I was wondering if anyone could tell me what kind of thrush this is? (My apologies if it's not a thrush at all!)

Sorry that I couldn't get a better photo. Merlin identified it as Swainson's Thrush, but Ebird told me that it's rather rare to spot a Swainson's Thrush around this time. And I cannot tell whether it's a swainson or a hermit from its eyering.

Thank you for your help!
 

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Kits

Picture Picker
Welcome to Birdforum! I am sure that you will find lots to interest you here and I hope that you enjoy your visits.

I’m afraid I can’t help, but I’m sure someone will know.
 

KC Foggin

Registered User
Supporter
United States
BTW


Hi there and a warm welcome to you from those of us on staff here at BirdForum!

LWe are glad that you found us and thanks for taking a moment to say hello. Please join in wherever you like.
 

nartreb

Speak softly and carry a long lens
Does look like a thrush. Hermit is a reasonable guess, based on what we can see. Face doesn't look buffy enough for a swainson's, for example. Hermit is definitely in the area - I saw one in Watertown yesterday. It's possible the other species have different migration timing, I'll check.

To clinch a Hermit ID you should see that the tail is redder than the back or head - can't see that here due to a combination of angle, lighting, and chromatic aberration in the lens, so personally I'd leave this as Catharus sp even though Hermit seems likely.

Update: E-Bird data suggests that Hermit is much more common locally than, say, gray-cheeked, AND can be seen a little earlier, specifically, before mid-May. (Swainson's though, is also pretty common, and has in some years been spotted before May 1st.)

ETA: another good way to confirm Hermit is behavioral - Hermits bob their tails quite often.
 
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lunluochichu

New member
United States
Thank you everyone for the help and the warm welcome! I am thrilled to have found such a nice community, looks like a treasure trove to me!

I am not sure if it's any help but I am going to post it anyway: I saw this bird this afternoon at almost exactly the same spot, and was wondering if it could be the same bird. I lost it the next second, so I couldn't tell whether it bobbed its tail or not.
 

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nartreb

Speak softly and carry a long lens
Doesn't show the tail, nor can I see any color contrast in the wingtips, so nothing in the new photo to clinch the ID. It could be an artifact of photographing through leaves, but the overall color seems a little warm for Hermit, raising a possibility of Veery or even Wood Thrush. But if it's the same bird as yesterday, then it's not a wood thrush, based on face pattern (obstructed in new shot but visible enough in the first set). And it's probably not a veery, since the breast spots are pretty strong (dark and extensive).
It's fairly likely to be the same bird -- no thrush species are exactly commonplace in Cambridge right now, so the odds of two at the same spot are fairly low.

That makes six (or five and a half, acccounting for possibility it's not the same bird) pieces of photographic evidence that I would put in the "Hermit seems likely" category, but thrushes are not easy.
 

lunluochichu

New member
United States
Doesn't show the tail, nor can I see any color contrast in the wingtips, so nothing in the new photo to clinch the ID. It could be an artifact of photographing through leaves, but the overall color seems a little warm for Hermit, raising a possibility of Veery or even Wood Thrush. But if it's the same bird as yesterday, then it's not a wood thrush, based on face pattern (obstructed in new shot but visible enough in the first set). And it's probably not a veery, since the breast spots are pretty strong (dark and extensive).
It's fairly likely to be the same bird -- no thrush species are exactly commonplace in Cambridge right now, so the odds of two at the same spot are fairly low.

That makes six (or five and a half, acccounting for possibility it's not the same bird) pieces of photographic evidence that I would put in the "Hermit seems likely" category, but thrushes are not easy.
Thank you so much nartreb!

I was looking at the photos, and it seems that the spots on the breast are distributed somewhat differently. Today's bird has more spots towards the belly, whereas the one from yesterday only have spots on its breast. Not to mention that today's bird has a distinct pattern - two rows of four spots under an "arch", which is nowhere to be found with yesterday's bird. So they might not be the same bird after all.

Thrushes are indeed very difficult! Thank you for the information though - I spotted a Hermit Thrush two weeks ago in Belmont, and I didn't know trushes are not that common in Cambridge at this time.
 
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