Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Matt MacGillivray/Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.0)

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush
Catharus guttatus
Perching Birds | Family: Thrushes, Turdidae

An estimated 75% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

To many, the song of the Hermit Thrush is the most beautiful of any North American bird. Outside the breeding range it may occasionally be heard late in spring, before the birds head north to nest. This is the only one of our spotted thrushes that winters in the northern states, subsisting on berries and buds. During the warm months, however, it feeds largely on insects taken from the ground, most of the time under dense cover, hopping around and then watching in an upright position like a robin. The Hermit Thrush is also the state bird of Vermont.

Description

6 1/2 -7 1/2" (17-19 cm). Smaller than a robin. The only one of our brown, spotted thrushes with dull brown upperparts and a rusty tail. Frequently flicks its tail.

Voice

Series of clear, musical phrases, each on a different pitch, consisting of a piping introductory note and a reedy tremolo. Call note a low tuck.

Nesting

4 blue-green eggs in a well-made cup of moss, leaves, and rootlets concealed on the ground or in a low bush in the forest.

Habitat

Coniferous and mixed forests; deciduous woodlands and thickets on migration and in winter.

Range/Migration

Breeds from central Alaska east to Newfoundland and south to southern California, northern New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Virginia. Winters from Washington and southern New England southward.