Hermit Thrush

The Hermit Thrush is a widespread songbird which inhabits
a wide array of forests types including coniferous, hardwood, and mixtures. Its
plumage is a duller brown than other native thrushes aside from its chestnut-colored rump and tail. At dawn and dusk, males sing a two-part song that has been
described as both haunting and ethereal, rendered “oh, holy holy, -ah, purity pu-
rity, -ehh sweetly sweetly”. The Hermit Thrush typically starts singing 30 minutes
before sunrise and stops singing about 30 minutes after sunset. Males arrive to the
nesting grounds before females and defend territories with vocalizations and communicative displays. Their bulky nests are constructed either on the ground or in a small tree or shrub and are difficult to find. Materials used in the nest include grasses, mosses, twigs, mud, animal hair, rootlets, and pine needles. Adults coax their young out of the nest approximately 12 days after hatching.

Safe Dates: May 20th to August 1st (applicable for only the S or H codes).


Breeding Evidence: If you hear a Hermit Thrush singing its ethereal song within the safe dates, use code S. The simplest way to upgrade this to a “Probable Breeder” is to listen for singing again at the same location 7 or more days later to upgrade the code to S7. For silently perched or calling (a rapidly repeated “chuck”) bird, use code H. When agitated at the nest, Hermit Thrush call (a high-pitched “eeee”) and use communicative displays such as crest raising and even strikes to ward o threats (code A). Males defend territories through hostile behavior such as wing-flicking, gaping, and chasing (code T). Hermit Thrush territories can be fairly close together, however. Although nests are often well-concealed, there are many observations which can be used to confirm breeding. If an incubating female is found sitting on a nest, use code ON, but note that we strongly discourage closely approaching or disturbing nesting birds. If birds are observed carrying food (grasshoppers, beetles, spiders, moths), use code CF. Young Hermit Thrush leave the nest under their parent’s care about 12 days after hatching. If recently edged young are observed and are incapable of strong flight, use code FL.

Image courtesy of Logan Parker. 

Audio courtesy of Lance A. M. Benner.

© 2019 Logan Parker

The Maine Nightjar Monitoring Project is a part of the Maine Natural History Observatory