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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Swainson's Thrush -- Catharus ustulatus

RANGE: Breeds from western and central Alaska, northern Saskatchewan, central Quebec, and Newfoundland south to southern Alaska, southern and east-central California, central Utah, north-central New Mexico, extreme northern Nebraska, eastern Montana, southern Manitoba, northern Minnesota, southern Ontario, northern Pennsylvania, and southern Maine. Also in eastern West Virginia, western Virginia, and western Maryland. Winters from Mexico south.

STATUS: Rare to locally common.

HABITAT: In summer, inhabits dense coniferous forests (especially spruce) and dense tall shrubbery, or recent clearcuts in low damp areas or near water. In parts of range, prefers aspen-poplar forests and willow or alder thickets, and occasionally breeds in coniferous-deciduous forests. In winter, frequents deciduous forests.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Damp forests or adjacent water.

NEST: Builds a bulky cup nest, usually near the trunk, on a horizontal branch of a conifer 2 to 20 feet above the ground.

FOOD: Gleans food from the forest floor, foliage, and branch surfaces. Also eats insects, spiders, millipedes, and small fruits and berries.

REFERENCES: Beal 1915b, DeGraff et al. 1980, Forbush and May 1955, Terres 1980, Verner and Boss 1980.

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