Despite the best efforts of our resident mockingbird, the beautyberry shrubs are still loaded with fruit. Today, two Swainson’s thrushes (Catharus ustulatus) found the bounty and have been feasting ever since. They can swallow a dozen fruits per minute.
Swainson’s thrushes nest in the spruce-fir boreal forests of Canada and the coniferous woods of the western U.S. The ones in our garden are on their way to South America, where they will spend the winter. Interestingly, many birds in western North America fly due east for thousands of miles before heading south. This seemingly wasteful route (why not fly directly south?) appears to be a consequence of their history: the western birds are descended from easterners and they retrace the migratory route of their ancestors.