Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dusky Thrush (Turdus eunomos)

(25 cm.) Heavily patterned black and white; reddish-brown wing linings; broad reddish-brown wing patch

The Dusky Thrush is one member of a large family of sweet singing birds, the thrushes, of the family, “turdidae”. Thrushes throughout the world are considered among the most gifted of avian singers, with their beautiful, rich flute-like warbling. Many thrush species in China are also gifted musical performers, with the Song Thrush as perhaps the most gifted of the clan.

The Dusky Thrush is also quite musical, performing its simple whistled song many times from the time it sets off on its spring migration north through the breeding season in mid- summer.

Thrushes and other species of songbirds sing not only to attract a mate, but also to set up territories during the annual summer breeding season. Each pair of birds of a particular species needs several square kilometers of space in a particular location from which they build nests and have exclusive food-gathering rights. The maintenance of strict territories ensures that chicks raised by parent birds of a particular species will have rights to the necessary resources for their survival.

The Dusky Thrush song is not often heard in China, however, as its breeding range is the far north of Russia. This bird seeks out grassy fields, pastures, and similar open country with scattered trees as its preferred habitat. The female lays 3-5 eggs in a rather messy-looking nest.

Following the breeding season, Dusky Thrushes will migrate south and spend the winters in central and south China and Southeast Asia. It is during the winter that the Chinese observer will most often have the opportunity to glimpse this handsome bird in city parks. This bird is quite common and can be readily found in southeast China during the winter  months.

The Dusky Thrush is another versatile omnivore that is fond of insects, especially mosquitoes, and berries.

Photo by Brian Westland

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