I don't have any doubts that this bird is a thrush. As some of you have
mentioned, Ovenbirds have streaks - or if you want to call them spots, ok,
but they’re arranged in lines which carry on *all the way *down the flanks.
The photo is blurry which I think is making the spots seem like streaks. I
see that the 'spots' on Jim’s bird are limited to the breast, nothing on
the flanks. Ovenbird would have streaking that carries well down the
flanks, below the wings. While it appears like there might be a stripe on
the crown in the top image, I think this is just an effect of the
photo/lighting and is not actually present at all, especially since you
can't see it in the 2nd image and we are viewing the bird from the same
Aside from the lack of flank markings (which alone would be enough to say
it isn't an Ovenbird), the posture is overtly thrush-like, alert and more
vertical (Ovenbird is usually quite horizontal when on the ground). The low
light of the image is perhaps tricking our eyes with the color of the
upperparts, but everything here looks fine for Gray-cheeked Thrush - most
notably the gray cheeks, wings lacking rufous color (not a Hermit Thrush)
and the eye ring, while noticeable, isn't quite complete or bold enough,
and it's not buffy yellow, so we can rule out Swainson's as well.
Due to the low light of the image, and taking into account individual
variation, looking at the color of the upperparts isn't that useful here.
We also all have different eyesight, so certain tones appear differently to
each of us. It's generally more important to focus on shape and proportion,
posture/behavior, details of other key markings (like flank streaking or
lack thereof), etc.
Gray-cheeked Thrushes do breed all across N. Canada & Alaska, and they pass
through our area (and the whole eastern US) every spring and fall (although
they are more common in fall). Quite a few birders have been seeing them
around WNC lately (although I myself have been equally unlucky in finding
one this spring so far), so the timing checks out as well.
Anyway, that's my two cents!
Ventures Birding Tours
On Sat, May 16, 2020 at 9:02 AM Bill Steiner <steiner.audubon@xxxxxxxxx>
I gotta go with Ovenbird. The lateral stripe on the throat is diagonal in
profile and ends on the side of the neck. It is fairly sharp and has a
distinct white area above it. On the Gray-cheeked, the throat stripes
(when present) are not well-defined and run parallel from under the chin
almost straight down the breast.
James' bird has breast spots that appear to be dark and distinct and are
almost grouped into stripes . On the Gray-cheeked, the spots are smaller,
have softer edges and are not lined up into stripes..
James' bird appears to have a distinct dark stripe on the crown and it has
a noticeable eye ring. And the entire back of James' bird appears to be a
light cinnamon brown and not the darker brown of the Gray cheeked. .
The one physical aspect that tilts toward Gray-cheeked is the bill. It
appears to have a yellow base which is not obvious in the Ovenbird.
But Ovenbirds are breeding here in numbers. Not common, but certainly not
rare. Heard two up Reem's Creek Road yesterday. Gray-cheeked thrushes are
still migrating through but they are MUCH more difficult to find - for me.
So the loyal opposition votes for Ovenbird. Cheers, Bill
On Fri, May 15, 2020 at 2:42 AM Simon Thompson <simonrbt@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Looks more like a Gray-cheeked Thrush than any of the other species. The
big eye is a good clue
Nice yard bird!
Simon RB Thompson
Ventures Birding Tours
Please use the Ventures e-mail (Venturesbirding@xxxxxxxxx) to contact
the Ventures office - thanks!
On Thu, May 14, 2020 at 11:25 PM James Poling <james.poling@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Any guesses on the ID of this Thrush in our backyard the last few days?
I don’t think it is a Wood Thrush or Hermit Thrush. Maybe Swainson’s Thrush
or Gray-cheeked Thrush. Sorry for the quality. The bird has been very
furtive. Jim Poling
james poling, 624 Azalea Avenue, Black Mountain, North Carolina, 28711,