Mountain Bluebird (Photo by Leta Pezderic)

Mountain Bluebird (Photo by Leta Pezderic)

Bicknell's thrush (Photo by Serge Beaudette)

Bicknell's thrush (Photo by Serge Beaudette)

Bicknell's thrush

Bicknell’s thrush is one of the most threatened songbirds in North America. It is the only bird that breeds exclusively in northeastern North America (eastern Quebec, the Maritimes and New England), with up to four males tending to a single nest. This bird prefers cool, wet and windy forests. Its large eyes have been adapted to help it see in dark, dense habitats.

What does it look like?

The sparrow-sized bird's lower jaw is yellow, while dark spots decorate its chin, breast and sides. At a distance, Bicknell's thrush appears to be olive brown; however, close up, the plumage is warmish brown on its back, with chestnut brown upper tail feathers.

Canadian distribution of Bicknell's thrush (Map by NCC)

(Click on the image to enlarge)

Where is it found?

Except for a few offshore islands and coastal sites, Bicknell's thrush occupies the heights of the Appalachian mountain range. In Canada, it primarily breeds in Quebec, in thick coniferous stands from the Sutton Mountains to the Gaspe Peninsula as well as along the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Magdalen Islands. In the Atlantic region it is found in the interior highlands of New Brunswick and Cape Breton Island.

What does it eat?

Beetles, ants, caterpillars and spiders are the thrush's food of choice; however, flies and insects from the foliage of trees are also welcome. In late summer, during migration, and on the wintering grounds wild fruit is added to the menu.

What is NCC doing to protect habitat for this species?

In Quebec, NCC has protected a portion of this at-risk species' nesting grounds on the summits of the Sutton Mountains, part of the Northern Green Mountains Natural Area. Annual population surveys help scientists to better understand the health of this reclusive bird. The species is also a conservation target in other parts of the Appalachians where NCC is active, including the White Mountains and the Gaspe Coastal Habitats Natural Areas.

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