The Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) is a medium-sized North American thrush. It is not very closely related to the other North American migrant species of Catharus, but rather to the Mexican Russet Nightingale-thrush.
This species measures 15 to 18 cm (5.9 to 7.1 in) in length, spans 25 to 30 cm (9.8 to 11.8 in) across the wings and weighs 18 to 37 g (0.63 to 1.31 oz). It is more compact and stockier than other North American Catharus thrushes, with relatively longer wings. The Hermit Thrush has the white-dark-white underwing pattern characteristic of Catharus thrushes. Adults are mainly brown on the upperparts, with reddish tails. The underparts are white with dark spots on the breast and gray or brownish flanks. They have pink legs and a white eye ring. Birds in the east are more olive-brown on the upperparts; western birds are more grey-brown. [Wikipedia]
An unassuming bird with a lovely, melancholy song, the Hermit Thrush lurks in the understories of far northern forests in summer and is a frequent winter companion across much of the country. It forages on the forest floor by rummaging through leaf litter or seizing insects with its bill. The Hermit Thrush has a rich brown upper body and smudged spots on the breast, with a reddish tail that sets it apart from similar species in its genus. [All About Bird]
Hermit Thrush Facts [All About Birds]
- Hermit Thrushes sometimes forage by “foot quivering,” where they shake bits of grass with their feet to get insects. They also typically begin to quiver their feet as they relax after seeing a flying predator. Some scientists think the quivering happens as the bird responds to conflicting impulses to resume foraging or continue taking cover.
- Hermit Thrushes make several distinct calls around their nests. They will sometimes make a rising BYOB sound similar to a canary call or mewing kitten. Females frequently rearrange their eggs while making quit quit noises. In the morning, two adults meeting near the nest will greet each other with a pweet pweet call.
- Hermit Thrushes are part of a genus (Catharus) that includes four other similar thrushes in North America: the Veery, Swainson’s Thrush, Gray-cheeked Thrush, and Bicknell’s Thrush. In the northeastern mountains, the Veery lives at the lowest elevations, Hermit Thrushes at middle elevations and Swainson’s Thrushes at high elevations.
- The oldest recorded Hermit Thrush was at least 10 years, 10 months old when it was recaptured and re-released during banding operations in Maryland in 2009.