by Dan Sandri
Have you seen a Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) this Fall, either on your hikes or at home? They are back in the Bay Area, as well as farther south, after a Summer of breeding in the woods of Canada, southern Alaska, and the northeastern and western United States. They leave early for the North in the Spring and, depending on location, may raise 1-3 broods per year.
These birds are pretty distinct this time of the year In the West; they are the only brownish, spotted thrushes around now (Swainson’s Thrushes have gone far south). Adult Hermit Thrushes are mainly grey-brown on the upperparts, with reddish tails. The underparts are white with dark spots on the breast and grey or brownish flanks. They have pink legs and a white eye ring. They forage on the ground, but also can appear in trees or bushes, and eat insects and berries. If startled from the ground, it often perches low, flicks its wings nervously and slowly raises and lowers its tail.
Hermit thrushes have a truly beautiful song, but we don’t hear it here much, as they sing where they nest. We are more likely to hear their "tchup-tchup-tchup" call, which indicates perceived danger.
The Hermit Thrush is the state bird of Vermont.
Bird Guide: https://www.mdia.org/birds-1-1/hermit-thrush