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National Bird

Last Updated: Feb 21, 2012

clay colored thrush
 - Costa Rica

The clay-colored thrush (Turdus grayi), known locally as the yigüirro, was also once known as the clay-colored robin, but scientists later changed its family from robin to thrush. The species is one of Costa Rica’s most common birds and it is found throughout almost every region. The clay-colored thrush was designated Costa Rica’s national bird in January 1977. 

Clay-colored thrushes measure approximately nine inches tall, and both sexes exhibit yellow-brown plumage and a lightly striped neck, cream-colored stomach, and yellow-green bill. As do other robins and thrushes, these small birds hop instead of walk; upon landing, they often flick their tails back and forth. 

The clay-colored thrush was chosen as the national bird for several reasons. Due to its wide range and tendency to live close to humans, it is well known and therefore mentioned in many of Costa Rica’s folk songs, short stories and novels. The males are also cherished for their exquisite song; during mating season, they serenade potential mates with an unmistakable tune. In Costa Rica, their mating season (usually April-June) coincides with the beginning of the green season, and therefore farmers have always taken the yigüirro’s song as the first sign of coming rains. 

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