Hermit Thrush

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Common Name: Hermit Thrush

Scientific Name: Catharus guttatus

Size: 5.5-7.1 inches (14-18cm)

Habitat: North America; throughout the continental United states, Southern Canada and Alaska and Mexico. Hermit Thrushes often occupy lower-elevation forests with dense understory and berry bushes, including pine, broadleaf evergreen, and deciduous woods.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 60,000,000 mature individuals. Hermit Thrush populations have generally been rising over the last half-century. Like almost all migrant songbirds, Hermit Thrushes migrate at night and can be drawn toward transmission towers and skyscrapers, where they die in collisions. Although forest fires are a natural part of many forest ecosystems, they typically result in Hermit Thrushes moving elsewhere for several years while the forest regenerates.

Diet: Insects in Spring/summer and berries in Fall/Winter; hopping and scrapping in leaf litter while foraging.

Breeding: Males usually gather food for the nest, while females feed the nestlings. The young birds start by eating bits of larvae, then grasshoppers, moths, and spiders. One Hermit Thrush has been seen trying to give a nestling a salamander more than 1.5 inches long. Hermit Thrushes usually make their nests in and around trees and shrubs, but they can also get more creative. Nests have been found on a cemetery grave, on a golf course, and in a mine shaft. East of the Rocky Mountains the Hermit Thrush usually nests on the ground. In the West, it is more likely to nest in trees.

The female builds the nest from grass, leaves, pine needles, and bits of wood, with mud and lichen around the outside. She lines the nest with finer plant materials and willow catkins. The finished nest is 4–6 inches across, and the cup is 2–3 inches wide and 1–2 inches deep. The female takes 7–10 days to build the nest. The female lays 3-6 eggs and can have 2 broods a year.

Cool Facts: As the name suggests, the Hermit Thrush is a solitary bird. They 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.

They often make several distinct calls around their nests. They will sometimes make a rising "byob" sound similar to 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.

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