Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Jim Parrish
Photo Copyright Jim Parrish

Swainson's thrush, Catharus ustulatus, breeds in the western, north-central, and northeastern United States, as well as in Alaska and Canada. The species is migratory, moving to areas of Central America, South America, and Mexico for winter. It is a moderately common breeder in mountainous areas of Utah. Preferred habitats include dense shrublands, woodlands, and riparian zones.

Nests are built in small trees or bushes, usually less than six feet above the ground. A clutch of three or four eggs is laid and then incubated by the female alone for about two weeks. The young, which leave the nest at about two weeks of age, are tended by both parents. Swainson's thrush eats primarily fruits, insects, and seeds, with fruits being especially important during migration and on wintering grounds.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Peterson, R. T., and V. M. Peterson. 1990. A field guide to western birds, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 432 pp.