Rufous-backed Robin, Tumacacori, 26 Dec 2009

Had the opportunity to enjoy a lovely Rufous-backed Robin (or Rufous-backed Thrush, whichever you prefer) while out with clients along Santa Gertrudis Lane yesterday. Once the bird found a spot it liked, it simply sat there for minutes on end. Unfortunately, the only documentation-quality photo I obtained was when the bird decided to sit behind as many twigs and branches as possible...

(click on photo for much larger image)

Even from the front, however, one can separate it from the much more common American Robins that were also present. Both American and Rufous-backed Robins have yellow bills and reddish chest/flank coloration, as well as white throats streaked with black, but this is where the similarities end. Rufous-backed has a much lighter gray head, rather than the dark slate-gray or even blackish tones found in the head of an American Robin. Also, American has white eye arcs and a white supraloral stripe, absent in Rufous-backed Robins. In the field, that bold yellow orbital ring really stood out more than it does in the photo, but in good light it's quite striking. Finally, while American Robins have cinnamon-reddish coloration that extends throughout the breast and belly, leaving only the vent area white, Rufous-backed Robins have reddish coloring only in the breast and flanks: the belly and remaining underparts are white (not terribly clear in the photo, but present).

This image was crudely digiscoped by holding my Canon Powershot S5 up to the lens of my Pentax spotting scope...but it works for "souvenir" shots!

Good birding,
John Yerger
Tucson, AZ
Adventure Birding Company

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