Thrushes & Allies

Townsend’s Solitaire

Townsend's solitaire by Jonathon Jongsma / Wikimedia.

Look for The Townsend’s solitaire is a relatively small thrush. Its plumage is cool gray overall, with slightly lighter underparts. It has a long tail with white streaks on the outer edges. Its wings have black flight feathers and an intricate, yellowish-brown pattern. It has a crisp, thin eye-ring, a short bill, and black legs. It resembles a mockingbird in shape and color, but… Read more

Clay-colored Thrush

Clay-colored thrush by Joseph C. Boone / Wikimedia.

Look for The clay-colored thrush, formally known as the clay-colored robin, is a large thrush that is relatively unremarkable in appearance. It has brown or olive-brown upperparts—clay-colored—with a warmer, paler shade below. Its throat is typically the lightest part of the bird, but sometimes with faint brown streaks. It has a dull yellow or greenish bill with a dark base, dark pinkish-tan legs, and… Read more

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Gray-cheeked thrush. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Look for The gray-cheeked thrush is a small, spot-breasted thrush. It lacks eye-catching, distinguishing features, and has plain, olive-brown upperparts and off-white underparts. Its breast is a light yellowish-brown with dark spotting that grows fainter as it moves down the body. It has a stout body, dull pink legs, and a black bill with yellow on the back half of the lower mandible… Read more

Varied Thrush

Varied thrush by Elanor Bricceti / Wikimedia.

Look for The varied thrush is large songbird with a stout build, short tail, and distinctly colored plumage. It has a deeply pigmented, dark orange throat, breast, flanks, and eyebrow stripe. Its upperparts are a dark bluish-gray and its lower belly and undertail are white. It has grayish-black patches along the sides of its face as well as a dark… Read more


Veery by Cephas / Wikimedia

Look for The veery is a small, spot-breasted thrush. It is the rustiness of the eastern thrushes, with reddish-brown upperparts, a white belly, and pale gray flanks. Its breast is a pale yellowish-white with diffuse brown spotting that fades as it reaches its belly—the weakest breast spotting among eastern thrushes. It has a stout stature, dull pink legs… Read more

Swainson’s Thrush

Swainson's thrush at Magee Marsh, Ohio by D. Faulkner / Wikimedia

Look For Swainson’s thrush was once called the olive-backed thrush. The name changed in part because some Swainson’s thrush populations have brownish backs and also because the olive-like tone seen in others—which varies with light conditions—is much like that of gray-cheeked, Bicknell’s, and hermit thrushes. These species, however, lack the Swainson’s buff-colored eye ring, lores… Read more

Wood Thrush

Wood Thrush (Photo: Creative Commons)

Look for This medium-sized (7 ¾ inches in length) brown thrush has a bright rufous head and neck, olive-brown back and tail, and a white breast with large dark spots. Listen for The lilting flute-like song of the wood thrush inspires bird watchers, naturalists, poets, musicians, and humankind in general. Few things are more beautiful… Read more

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush (Photo: William H. Majoros/Creative Commons)

Look For Named for its shy, retiring ways, the hermit thrush can be distinguished from the other brownish thrushes by its gray-brown back and contrasting rufous tail. Hermits are found in mixed woodlands all across North America, and, unlike closely related thrushes, can often be found here, during winter. They are about 6 inches long… Read more

American Robin

American Robin (Photo: Kyle Carlsen)

Look for The robin’s simple yet evocative cheerily-cheerio song meshes well with the thunk of basketballs and the drone of lawnmowers in suburban neighborhoods all across North America; yet, they also hide their nests in mountaintop spruce and fir forests, where they are as wary as any hermit thrush. Males sport brick-red breasts and black… Read more

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