Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Russet-backed Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)


French: Grive à dos roussâtre German: Zwergmusendrossel Spanish: Zorzalito quemado

Turdus ustulatus


, 1840,

forests of the Oregon = Fort Vancouver, Washington, USA


Until recently considered conspecific with C. swainsoni, which see. Proposed race almae (SE Alaska) synonymized with nominate. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. u. ustulatus (Nuttall, 1840) – Pacific coast from SE Alaska S to N California and N New Mexico; non-breeding Mexico S to Panama.
  • C. u. phillipsi Ramos, 1991 – Queen Charlotte Is (W Canada); non-breeding E & W Mexico.
  • C. u. oedicus (Oberholser, 1899) – SW USA (California); non-breeding W Mexico S to Nicaragua.
  • Descriptive notes

    16–20 cm; 25–45 g. Nominate race is olive-tinged grey-brown above, dull whitish below, with slightly greyish face, buffy-cream eyering, lores and throat, dark... read more


    Song, by male only, typically at dawn and dusk from exposed perch in middle to upper canopy, and... read more


    Mainly coniferous forests of spruce (Picea) and fir (Abies); coastal douglas fir-... read more

    Food and feeding

    Invertebrates and fruit, former mainly in spring (92%) and summer, latter mainly in autumn (64%) and winter. Invertebrate prey largely... read more


    Apr–Aug; evidence of double-brooding not conclusive; only one clear case of second clutch after first successfully fledged. Territory... read more


    Long-distance migrant; entire population migrates to Central America and South America (S Mexico S... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally abundant, widespread but declining species. Population of Maritime Provinces of Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. & Christie, D.A. (2018). Russet-backed Thrush (Catharus ustulatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 February 2018).