The Swainson’s Thrush

A Swainson’s thrush on a path in the woods in Jester Park, Iowa, May 17, 2018.

He hopped erratically down the path in the woods pausing now and then for a quick snack. When he reached the end of his segment, he flew to a branch to rest before flying back to the beginning to start all over again.

There were two more Swainson’s thrushes in view on the morning of May 17th: one before and one after him on the path. They were all traveling through on the way to their summer homes further north.

Their call is a soft “whit” which could barely be heard over the noisy morning chatter of the other birds.

The “whit” call of a Swainson’s thrush in the woods in Jester Park, Iowa, May 17, 2018. He calls three times in the recording. The calls are faint compared to the chatter of the other birds.

The Swainson’s thrushes look similar to the hermit thrushes who visited the woods in late April. Their back feathers have a greenish tint compared to the rusty reddish feathers of the hermit thrushes. The patterns of the feathers by their beaks and on their fronts are different as well.

A Swainson’s thrush in the woods in Jester Park, Iowa, May 17, 2018.

A Swainson’s thrush in the woods in Jester Park, Iowa, May 17, 2018.

A Swainson’s thrush in the woods in Jester Park, Iowa, May 17, 2018.

Take care and thanks for reading.



About Sarah

nature, outdoor, and health enthusiast, book reader, and story teller
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13 Responses to The Swainson’s Thrush

  1. Shady_Grady says:

    Hmm. I have never heard of this creature before. That bird looks quite worried. 🙂

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Shady 🙂
      Thanks for visiting and your kindness! The little Swainson’s thrushes like to keep a low profile. 🙂 Interestingly, he hopped within a few feet of me which is when the video clip in the second 1/2 of the video was taken. I was wondering if I have gotten better at my attempts to impersonate a tree. 🙂 It was dark in the woods because the leaves were mostly out. I was standing very still. My jacket is green on the top half. My jeans are blue, though, and so is the bag I have the camera things in. I wonder what it is that birds sense with their eyes, nose, and ears. He and the other thrushes on the path were passing through on their way up to Canada. I only saw them for a few days. They likely pass through the woods near you as well. I don’t think they are birds you would see in your yard or walks around the neighborhood. I have only seen the Swainson’s thrushes and the hermit thrushes in the woods.

  2. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Sarah, finally I made it here. You capture birds in such a beautiful way. Incredible photography and I just loved the little video as well. I hope to one day be as good as you with birds. Stunning just stunning. And you gave me information on a bird I didn’t even know existed. Thank you!! ☺️

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Amy 🙂
      Thanks for visiting and your kindness! I am happy you enjoyed seeing the little Swainson’s thrush. 🙂 He and his cousin the hermit thrush are shy birds that like to keep to the woods and blend in. Both of them migrate through your area so you might see them in the fall. The summer range for the hermit thrush might include area near you. I can’t be sure from the map. I was very surprised when the little bird hopped up to within a few feet of me. He even stopped to breath and look around! I stood as still as possible. Then, he hopped past and flew to a tree branch. It was a lot of fun following him around that morning. 🙂

      • AmyRose🌹 says:

        That’s saying a lot about that bird if you know what I mean. That little one must have really felt comfortable around your energy and felt safe. When these things happen to me I just am in awe and feel just so humble. What camera equipment do you use? Your photography is just mind-blowing! 😙

        • Sarah says:

          I was in awe. 🙂 It is very rare that a bird comes that close to me. I am usually chasing fleeting glimpses of them. 🙂 The bird lens combination is the same one you have now: the canon 100-400 plus the 1.4 extender. It is a really nice lens. The extender adds a bit more reach. In my experience, the biggest factor besides taking many photos and picking out the ones that work is the light. The photos where the bird appears to be coming out of the photo are the ones taken in the soft early morning light.

          • AmyRose🌹 says:

            I had bought the Canon 1.4 extender but it was not compatible with my Canon 6D. I am in a quandary here to be truthful. I could go through with buying the Canon EOS 7D Mark II because it has the cropped sensor which allows my long lens to get up to 640 mm. It also has a lot of beautiful features. Or sell my Canon EOS 6D and buy a Canon EOS 5D Mark 3. Or is it Mark 4 now? Of course if I go that route I will again purchase the 1.4 extender. What I am thinking about is the exact same camera you have right now, Sarah. I have to really think this through. I love the 100 to 400 millimeter lens that I have but the only way that I can comfortably use that fir birds is to get the milliliters up to at least 600. Cropping just does not do it. I absolutely just love the way your pictures look and yes I do know lighting is everything to a picture. Again like I said lots to think about here… 🙄

            • Sarah says:

              It is a lot to think about. The 1.4 extender is a new addition to the camera toolbox here this year. I think it creates more opportunities. I think the Canon EOS 5D Mark 4 camera body which is the one I have now is a superb camera. I had an EOS 7D Mark II and I traded it in to purchase the 5D. I think it does the color palette better than the 7D and the photos have more depth perhaps both are because of the increased size of the light sensor. It is an investment. For me, I decided it was worth it since I plan to keep it for a quite a while. And I did the trade in so that contributed.

              • AmyRose🌹 says:

                I have honestly treasured this conversation, Sarah. I have lots to think about and won’t do anything until I am very sure. For now I am solely focused on my “cat family”. Thank you again for all the feedback!!!

          • AmyRose🌹 says:

            PS I know that feeling of awe only too well. Birds come so close to me it Reinstein Park and they do not scare away either when I go out to fill up the feeders in our backyard. I just stand there with my mouth hanging open in complete disbelief. It is such an honor to have these beautiful winged ones trust a giant like me. So yep I understand you perfectly. I applaud you for even being able to get out your camera without scaring that beautiful bird away. 👏👏👏

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