Backyard Birds

Sooty Robins or Sooty Thrushes

The Sooty Robins or Sooty Thrush (Turdus nigrescens) is a large thrush endemic to the highlands of Costa Rica and western Panama. This is an abundant bird of open areas and oak forest edges normally above 2200 m altitude.

RobinsLaughing ThrushesMountain RobinRock-Thrushes

It builds a heavy grass-lined cup nest in a tree 2-8 m above the ground, and the female lays two unmarked greenish-blue eggs between March and May.

The Sooty Robin resembles other Turdus thrushes in general appearance and habits. It is 24-25.5 cm long and weighs 96 g on average. The adult male is brownish-black with black wings and tail, and a black area between the orange bill and the eye.

The legs and bare eye ring are orange and the iris is pale grey. The female is similar but browner and somewhat paler and has yellow-orange bare parts. The juvenile resembles the adult female but has buff or orange streaks on the head and upperparts and dark spotting on the underparts.

Two superficially similar relatives share this species’ range. The Mountain Robin is uniformly brown with dark bare parts, and the Clay-colored Robin is much paler and yellow-billed.

The Sooty Robin behaves like other thrushes such as the American Robin. It forages on the ground, singly or in pairs, progressing in hops and dashes with frequent stops. It turns leaf litter seeking insects and spiders, and also eats small fruits, especially Ericaceae and Solanum.

The breeding season song is a gurgling squeaky chuweek chuweek seechrrzit seechrrzit seechrrzit seechrrzit tseeur tseeur tseeur tseeur, and the call is a grating grrrrkk.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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