Hermit Thrush

Catharus guttatus

The Hermit Thrush is the only member of its genus to spend the winter in North America. It changes its diet from eating nearly entirely insects in summer to one of equal parts insects and fruit in winter.

Interesting Information

  • In the Appalachian Mountains the Hermit Thrush is displaced at lower elevations by the Veery and at higher elevations by Swainson's Thrush, leaving the middle altitudes for the Hermit Thrush.

  • East of the Rocky Mountains the Hermit Thrush usually nests on the ground. In the West, it is more likely to nest in trees.


Adult Description

  • Medium-sized thrush.

  • Brown back, reddish tail.

  • Black spots on chest.

  • Thin white eyering.

  • Cocks tail up and flicks wings frequently; lifts tail up quickly, lowers it slowly.

  • Length Range: 17 cm (6.75 in)

  • Weight: 31 g (1.1 oz)

  • Size: Small (5 - 9 in)

Sex Differences

Sexes Similar


Similar to adults


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


  • Breeds in interior of deciduous, mixed, and coniferous forest, favoring internal forest edges.

  • Winters in moist and dense cover of woody growth, forests, open woodlands, and in the northern part of range especially in ravines and sheltered sites.


Forages on ground by watching for movement, and by digging in leaf litter.


Insects and other arthropods, fruit.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Turdidae
Genus: Catharus
Species: Catharus guttatus
    Subspecies: Catharus guttatus auduboni
  Catharus guttatus crymophilus
  Catharus guttatus faxoni
  Catharus guttatus guttatus
  Catharus guttatus nanus
  Catharus guttatus polionutus
  Catharus guttatus sequoiensis
  Catharus guttatus sleveni

Similar Species

  • Browner races of similar, but have buffy eyering and a strong buffy wash to lower cheeks and breast, and tail does not contrast strongly with back.

  • Gray-cheeked and Bicknell's thrushe, Swainson's Thrushs have only a partial eyering, and the tail does not contrast as sharply with the back. The Bicknell's Thrush may have a chestnut tail, but not as bright rufous.

Bird Sound

Song a melodious, fluty warble, mostly on one pitch, starting with a clear whistled note. Call a low "chuck" and a high, harsh "screy."

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution