Sunday, May 23, 2010

Swainson's Thrush, a Distinguished Visitor

As the main migration season winds down here in southern Arizona, the later migrants (some of them only infrequently encountered) can put in an appearance. White-rumped Sandpipers, Yellow-billed Cuckoos, Thick-billed Kingbirds, Blue Grosbeaks and Varied Buntings all tend to lag the other arrivals. Today Alan spotted a regular but very scarce migrant, which came to our yard for a sip of water: a Swainson's Thrush!

The buffy spectacle and lack of rust in the tail help to rule out the similar Hermit Thrush, a much more common resident of the Chiricahua Mountains.

Swainson's Thrush in Portal AZ (Photos by Narca)

Over the past 15 years while working in the bootheel of New Mexico, Alan and I have only encountered Swainson's Thrushes on four occasions, twice while banding at Clanton Cienaga. They seem to move through the region during a narrow window of time, from about May 11 through about May 31. That's now, so ¡ojo! –– keep your eyes open!

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