Creamy-bellied Thrush

Creamy-bellied Thrush

Turdus amaurochalinus

Creamy-bellied Thrush are a commonly seen bird that demonstrates the undiscovered knowledge awaiting Smithsonian scientists in South America. Tracking these birds will unlock information that will help better our understanding of migratory birds across the continent.


Length: 22-25cm (8-10in)

Weight: 52-73g (1.5-3oz)

Conservation status: Least concern

Creamy-bellied thrushes are part of the largest groups of birds in the world, the genus Turdus, which is made up of 65 species found worldwide.


Since November 2016, Smithsonian scientists and their collaborators have been tracking Creamy-bellied Thrushes in Brazil. South America is home to the third-largest bird migration system in the world, in terms of the number of migratory species, and is a system that is surprisingly distinct and complex when compared to bird migration on other continents. However, it is not very well understood due to the lack of infrastructure and the small amount of ornithologists present. There are also a variety of logistical challenges to tracking birds in South America because of the diverse nature of bird migration there. While there are some bird species that follow a typical north-south migration route, many others travel up and down different mountain ranges and move east-west across large ecosystems such as the Amazon Rainforest.

The concept that scientists know so little about the movement patterns of Creamy-bellied Thrushes, one of the most common migratory birds in South America, highlights the lack of knowledge about bird migration there. Because of their robust population size, Creamy-bellied Thrushes are relatively easy to study and assess their movements, resource utilization, and interactions with humans. This information can potentially be applied to more species of migratory birds that may be threatened or endangered, providing scientists with a better understanding of the challenges migratory birds face across the planet.

Meet the Team

Pete Marra, Ph.D.

Director, Georgetown Environment Initiative
Laudato Si' Professor of Biology and the Environment
Georgetown University
Emeritus Senior Scientist, Migratory Bird Center
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
National Zoological Park

Brandt Ryder, Ph.D.

Research Scientist
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Migratory Bird Center
National Zoological Park

Alex Jahn, Ph.D.

Migration Patterns Fellow
Indiana University
Environmental Resilience Institute

Evan Buechley, Ph.D.

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Migratory Bird Center
National Zoological Park


Scholarly Articles

Chesser, R. T. (1994). Migration in South America: an overview of the austral system. Bird Conservation International, 4(2–3), 91–107.

Jahn, A. E., Levey, D. J., Cueto, V. R., Ledezma, J. P., Tuero, D. T., Fox, J. W., & Masson, D. (2013). Long-distance bird migration within South America revealed by light-level geolocators. The Auk, 130(2), 223–229.

Jahn, A. E., Levey, D. J., & Smith, K. G. (2017). Reflections across Hemispheres : A System-Wide Approach to New World Bird Migration Author ( s ): Alex E . Jahn , Douglas J . Levey and Kimberly G . Smith Published by : American Ornithological Society Stable URL : REFE, 121(4), 1005–1013.

Voelker, G., Rohwer, S., Bowie, R. C. K., & Outlaw, D. C. (2007). Molecular systematics of a speciose, cosmopolitan songbird genus: Defining the limits of, and relationships among, the Turdus thrushes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 42(2), 422–434.


P. Capllonch-U. de Tucuman

C. Fontana-PUCRS