Return of Bird of the Week: Austral Thrush


Austral Thrush with prey, Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina

The Austral Thrush is the southernmost member of the 83 (!) members of the genus Turdus. It’s found on the southern tip of South America, north along the western side as far central Chile, and in the Falkland Islands. In the Falklands, it is sedentary; on the South American mainland, there is some irregular migration north in winter.

This species has a diet and habits much like the familiar American Robin, to whom it is a close cousin. It is an enthusiastic breeder, with up to three broods – occasionally four in the Falklands – each year. The first photo was taken in November, and you can see the adult is gathering food for chicks, in what would be mid-spring in those southern latitudes.

Austral Thrush in invasive Gorse, New Island, Falkland Islands

In the Falkland Islands, introduced predators, especially housecats, have impacted the Austral Thrush. In comparable habitats (paddocks of replanted tussocks and short turf), the population density is 2.6 males per hectare on islands where cats, rats and mice are absent. It’s only 0.38 males per hectare where those introduced predators are present. At the present, this species’ high reproductive output appears to counterbalance those elevated predation effects. The IUCN has this as a species of Least Concern across its range.

Juvenile Austral Thrush looking for his parents to bring food, New Island, Falkland Islands

As you might expect with such a widely distributed species, with geographically isolated populations (the Falkland population by ocean; the Chile population by the Andes Mountains), there are between three and five subspecies.

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