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.


Argentina map

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

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

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.

Conservation Status: Least concern

Least concern status


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.

Close up of a dark colored Creamy-Bellied Thrush

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.

Creamy-Bellied Thrush migration map



Meet the Team

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

Research Scientist

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Migratory Bird Center National Zoological Park

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 International4(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 Auk130(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 : REFE121(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 Evolution42(2), 422–434.


Aramco logo

P. Capllonch-U. de Tucuman

C. Fontana-PUCRS

Stay In Touch

Sign up to receive updates on our projects or send us an email

Join our mailing list

* indicates required
Contact Us