Thrush and Bluebirds (Turdidae)
|Turdidae: Thrush and Bluebirds
Types of Birds
The ABA documents the presence of twenty six songbirds of the Turdidae family on North American soil.
Better known by the common names of thrushes, robins, solitaires and bluebirds, species diversity reaches its peak in the genus Turdus, with its eleven recorded species, including the American Robin.
The annual spring appearance of the American Robin (Turdus migratorius), the largest and most common North American Turidae species, signals the beginning of spring in many northern areas.
Its popularity persuaded residents of Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin to designate it their official state bird. The video provides a few scenes of an American Robin in action.
During the winter season, Robins are known to gather in large flocks, sometimes reaching populations of 100,000 or more, in areas that provide adequate food, shelter and water.
Previously considered a native of Mexico, the Clay-colored Thrush (Turdus grayi), continues to make regular appearances along the southern border areas of North American.
Addition Turdus species such as the Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula), a common bird of Europe, Asia and Africa, occasionally fly off course and get spotted by a birder.
Longer term Turdidae residents such as the Bicknell's Thrush (Catharus bicknelli) and Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) make the most threatened Turidae species list, with habitat loss and acidification considered as their primary threats.
Acidification research, for example, addresses issues such as the relationship between changes in soil composition caused by acid rain and local soil based insect populations, a primary wood thrush food source.
The Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus), a better established Catharus species, inhabits forest floors from coast to coast.
Large portions of the population migrate to coastal areas during the winter. In 1941, the state of Vermont designated the Hermit Thrush the official state bird.
The well documented decline in North American bluebird populations (genus Sialia) during the mid-twentieth century appears to have reversed itself. Evidence points to the aggressive placement of nesting boxes in bluebird territories as an effective population stabilization strategy.
The songs of the three native bluebird species pleases most ears. Missouri and New York call the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis) their official state birds. Nevada and Idaho awarded the same designation to the Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides).
Bluebirds partially migrate throughout the year in search of food, mostly insects, supplemented by berries and seeds.
The top picture presents a juvenile Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana), with a white eye ring and blue wings. The spotted patch on the breast will eventually turn the typical bluebird rust color.
In the Pacific Northwest, the Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius) could be mistaken for a Robin by anyone merely glancing at it.
The top picture shows a male, with more defined orangish eye, throat, wing and breast patches. Females exhibit duller orange patches.
During the breeding season, their territory tends to be the coniferous forests of mountain areas. During winters, many move to the valleys, and they can often be seen at backyard bird feeders.
The Townsend's Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi) is a West Coast member of the Turidae family and the only member of the Myadestes genus found in the United States.
They are fairly common birds in forested mountain areas, with gray feathers that blend easily into most tree branch backgrounds.
© 2008-2012 Patricia A. Michaels