A rather secretive bird of Hispaniola’s highland forests (3) (4) (5), the La Selle thrush (Turdus swalesi) is unmistakeable in appearance, being distinguished by its striking, beautifully patterned markings (3) (4). It is a relatively dark, large-bodied forest thrush which is slate-black on the head, upperparts and upper breast, becoming deep red-brown to chestnut on the rest of the breast and flanks, and white on the belly (3) (4) (6) (7).
The throat of the La Selle thrush is streaked with white (3) (4) (6) (7) and the cheeks and ear-coverts may be flecked silvery-grey (5) (6). The bill and the characteristic ring around this species’ eye are usually orange or yellowish-orange (3) (4) (5) (6). The La Selle thrush has glossy black wings and a black tail, being somewhat browner on the flight feathers and outer tail feathers (5). The undertail coverts are white (6).
The male and female La Selle thrush are very similar in appearance (2). Two subspecies have been described, Turdus swalesi swalesi and Turdus swalesi dodae. T. s. swalesi is uniformly black on the upperparts, while T. s. dodae differs in having a more olive-brown back which contrasts sharply with the black on the head and neck (2) (6) (8).
The song of the La Selle thrush is a long, loud series of slow, deliberate, fluty notes and ‘tu-re-oo’ and ‘cho-ho-cho’ calls, often given at dawn and dusk (2) (3) (6). Its song is also described as bubbling and rollicking (2) or a quiet, mellow mix of gurgling notes. This species also produces a loud ‘wheury-wheury-whuery’ alarm call (6).
- Length: 26 - 27 cm (2)
- 88 - 100 g (2)