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Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush

Catharus aurantiirostris

Length: 6.5 inches Wingspan: 11 inches Seasonality: VERY rare visitor
ID Keys: Bright orange bill, orange eye-ring, greyish-white underparts, rich brown upperparts, light-orange legs

Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush - Catharus aurantilrostrisThe Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush is normally a bird of the warm forest regions in Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.  They are related to Catharus thrushes that can be found in South Dakota (Veery, Swainson's Thrush, Gray-cheeked Thrush, and Hermit Thrush).  However, the species is not known to wander widely from its normal range, and until 2010 had only been seen alive once in the United States, when one was caught in a mist net (used for bird banding) in southern Texas.  However, in July 2010, a single singing bird was found in the Black Hills of South Dakota, with many sightings, and photo and sound recorded verification.  Birders from across the country visited the Black Hills, hoping to get a glimpse of a very rare bird for the United States.

Habitat: Found in a variety of forested habitats, primarily mid- to lower-elevation tropical forests of Mexico and Central America.  Can be found in second-growth forest or other heavily disturbed forest, as well as mature forest.

Diet: Diet includes earthworms, arthropods, snails, and some berries and fruit.

Behavior: Usually forages on the ground, although it will also forage in the forest understory and occasionally in the lower canopy.  Often flicks and cocks its tail as it forages along the ground.

Nesting: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Short, jumbled non-musical warbles.

Migration: Permanent resident throughout much of its normal range, although there is some short-distance migration in winter to lower-elevations for some populations.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush sightings

Similar Species: Veery, Hermit Thrush

Conservation Status: Given the species utilization of second-growth and other disturbed forest areas, the species is not thought to be threatened. 

Further Information: 1) Cornell Neotropical Birds - Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush

2) Internet Bird Collection - Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush

Image Information: Drawing of Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush - Terry Sohl - March 2012


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush - North American Range Map
South Dakota Status: Once in a lifetime visitor!  The bird seen in Spearfish Canyon in the Black Hills in July 2010 was only the 2nd live bird ever seen in the United States.  Not a species that can be reasonably expected to appear again in the state.

Additional Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush Images
 Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush - By Terry Sohl