|Conservation status||Has declined as a breeding bird along parts of the Pacific Coast and elsewhere. Overall populations probably stable. Could be vulnerable to loss of habitat on breeding grounds.|
|Habitat||Spruce forests and dense streamside woods; in migration, other woods. Breeds in far north and in mountains in coniferous forest with extensive leafy undergrowth; on Pacific Coast, also breeds in deciduous trees and thickets growing along streams. Occurs in many kinds of woodlands in migration. Winters in tropical forest.|
Does much feeding on ground, but not as much as the other brown thrushes. Also forages in trees, and may hover momentarily to take insects from foliage or may catch them in mid-air.
3-4, rarely 5. Pale blue, with brown spots sometimes concentrated at larger end; sometimes almost unmarked. Incubation is by female, about 12-14 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 10-13 days after hatching.
Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 10-13 days after hatching.
Mostly insects and berries. In North America, feeds on a variety of insects including beetles, ants, caterpillars, crickets, wasps, flies, moths, and others, also spiders and other invertebrates. Berries and fruits amount to over one-third of summer diet. Winter diet in tropics not well known, but often found in fruiting trees there.
Male arrives on breeding grounds and establishes territory, defending it by singing. In aggressive display during encounters with intruders on territory, he sleeks down his feathers and points bill up. Nest: Usually placed on a horizontal branch, 2-10' above the ground, sometimes lower or much higher (rarely up to 30'). Often nests in conifers in the east and north, deciduous trees or shrubs in the west. Nest (built by female alone) is a bulky open cup of twigs, bark strips, moss, grass, leaves, sometimes with some mud added. Lined with bark fibers, lichens, animal hair, other soft materials.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
Download Our Bird Guide App
Spring migration relatively late and spread over a long period, some northbound birds still passing through southern states at beginning of June.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsSong a series of reedy spiraling notes inflected upward.
Learn more about this sound collection.
How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Swainson's Thrush
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Swainson's Thrush
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.