[Tweeters] EYEBROWED THRUSH - Pioneer Park, Tumwater, Thurston County

johntubbs at comcast.net johntubbs at comcast.net
Fri Feb 12 21:41:34 PST 2016

Hi folks,

This afternoon (Friday) I took a quick perimeter walk around one of 'my' birding spots now that we live in Thurston County - Pioneer Park in Tumwater off Henderson Road. Birding was slow, especially near the river which appeared to have overflowed its banks recently and probably drove out many of the ground-focused species. However, as I walked around the back of the ball fields, in an area where the grass and a (soggy, this time of year) dirt path usually have lots of American Robins foraging, I had a very unexpected surprise. In an area where about 30 robins were working, one of the birds immediately stood out as 'different'.

It was facing directly away from me and even without binoculars, the color of the tail, back, nape and crown was wrong for an AMRO and a Varied Thrush - it was a drab/dullish olive. My first thought was some unusual color mutation in an AMRO, but when the bird turned sideways and with binocs on the bird, there was a distinct whitish supercilium/eyebrow. The bird was slightly smaller than adjacent robins, and also obvious was that the breast color, though a dull orange or rust, was not nearly as bright as on an AMRO, and also didn't extend as far down over the belly as with AMRO. The legs appeared to be lighter color, but the dark wet soil on the path made an exact leg color ID not certain. The throat was whitish with dark brown or black malar stripes and some indistinct striping or speckling on the white in the center of the throat. The bird was obviously a thrush of some sort, and was foraging exactly like the robins, but to be honest I had no idea what species I was looking at.

After studying it sufficiently and making detailed notes, I started down the path and the robins and the odd thrush flushed in front of me and I didn't see it again. Out came the iPhone and after consulting iBird Pro and hitting the 'similar' pop-up under AMRO, it became immediately apparent that I had seen an Eyebrowed Thrush.

It is basically a Siberian species that iBird Pro says is 'rare to casual' in North America, but it does not show up in Sibley's Western Edition, or my version of Birds of Washington, so it must be extremely rare in WA as nearly as I can tell. A Siberian thrush species seems an odd one to be a captive escapee, so I'm inclined to think (hope!) that it's judged to be a bird that took a wrong turn in Siberia and kept going. I've posted a detailed description on eBird after first sending a description of the sighting to Brad Waggoner, Dennis Paulson and Bill Tweit for their input.

Naturally because of the weather today, I left the camera at home, sigh. I plan on going back to relocate the bird and photograph it if possible, but my schedule may preclude getting back before Monday morning. If anyone else wants to look for it, here are specific directions.

There is one entrance to Pioneer Park, off Henderson Road. It is listed as a Thurston County hotspot on eBird and shows up on my car's nav system, so you should be able to find it. As you pull into the park, there is a parking area and soccer fields on the right. Keep driving past the soccer fields and park toward the end of the parking lot near the playground area and the ballfield complex. Walk to the ballfield complex (four fields) and between the two fields that border the marsh area, walk the patch of grass between the two fields toward the marsh. Check that grass area, and the grass ballfields first because robins are often on any of those areas. Continue on the grass corridor to the back of the ballfields and you will see a soggy, dirt/wood chip path about eight feet wide turning to the right behind one of the ball fields. The thrush when I saw it was on the first 30 feet or so of that path. There usually are robins foraging all along that path as you walk it back toward the soccer fields where it rejoins a paved path in the park. For any of you who do chase the bird, there won't be any neighbor issues here since the park borders a river, Henderson Road and the marsh. If a birding crowd shows up, maybe a curious park worker will wonder what's going on, but otherwise have at it, and good luck.

John Tubbs
Lacey, WA
johntubbs at comcast.net

More information about the Tweeters mailing list