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.

Cool Facts

Photo taken from:
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America by David Allen Sibley
  • 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.

Immature Description

Like adult.
Range Map
Taxonomic Hierarchy


2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Turdidae
Genus: Catharus
Species: Catharus guttatus
  • Catharus guttatus auduboni
  • Catharus guttatus crymophilus
  • Catharus guttatus faxoni
  • Catharus guttatus guttatus
  • Catharus guttatus nanus
  • Catharus guttatus polionutus
  • Catharus guttatus sequoiensis
  • Catharus guttatus sleveni
Song a melodious, fluty warble, mostly on one pitch, starting with a clear whistled note. Call a low "chuck" and a high, harsh "screy."

Identification and Information
See Anatomy of a Bird
  • Length Range: 17 cm (6.75 in)
  • Weight: 31 g (1.1 oz)
  • Size: Small (5 - 9 in)
  • Color Primary: Brown
  • Underparts: White with dark spotting and buff breast with dark spotting.
  • Upperparts: Gray-brown
  • Back Pattern: Solid
  • Belly Pattern: Solid
  • Breast Pattern: Spotted or speckled
  • Bill Shape: All-purpose
  • Eye Color: Brown or dark brown.
  • Head Pattern: Plain, Eyering, Malar or malar stripe
  • Crown Color: Gray-brown
  • Forehead Color: Gray-brown
  • Nape Color: Gray-brown
  • Throat Color: Buff with dark streaking.
  • Cere color: No Data
  • Flight Pattern: Swift direct flight with rapid wing beats.
  • Wingspan Range: 29 cm (11.5 in)
  • Wing Shape: Rounded-Wings
  • Tail Shape: Fan-shaped Tail
  • Tail Pattern: Solid
  • Upper Tail: Red
  • Under Tail: White
  • Leg Color: Pink
  • Breeding Location: Forests, coniferous, Forest edge
  • Breeding Type: Monogamous, Solitary nester
  • Breeding Population: Fairly common
  • Egg Color: Green blue sometimes with black flecks
  • Number of Eggs: 3 - 6
  • Incubation Days: 12 - 13
  • Egg Incubator: Female
  • Nest Material: Weeds, rotted wood, twigs, mud, and other fine materials.
  • Migration: Most migrate
  • Condition at Hatching: Helpless with some sparse down. Chicks fledge in 11-12 days.

Other Names

Similar Species

  • Grive solitaire (French)
  • Zorzalito colirrufo (Spanish)
  • Browner races of Swainson's Thrush 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 thrushes 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.

Conservation Status

Populations increasing slightly continent wide.




Sources used to Construct this Page:

  • 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.
  • Jones, P. W., and T. M. Donovan. 1996. Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus). In The Birds of North America, No. 261 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Insects and other arthropods, fruit.
Forages on ground by watching for movement, and by digging in leaf litter.

Adult Sexes Similar

IMGP5909.jpg (682546 bytes)
IMGP5910.jpg (934956 bytes)
IMGP5911.jpg (667789 bytes)
IMGP5912.jpg (675587 bytes)
IMGP5913.jpg (882941 bytes)
IMGP5914.jpg (674535 bytes)

Additional Photos & Video

Adult Sexes Similar


All photos 2008 Rick Swartzentrover - Free for non-profit use.

Home     Bible     Photos     Hiking Photos     Cults     E-Books     Family Tree     Politics     E-mail