Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush

Catharus guttatus
Population size
72 mln
Life Span
8-10 years
18-37 g
15-18 cm
25-30 cm

Hermit thrushes are medium-sized North American songbirds. Adults are mainly brown on the upperparts, with reddish tails and have a characteristic white-dark-white underwing pattern. Their underparts are white with dark spots on the breast and grey or brownish flanks. They have pink legs and a white eye-ring. Birds in the east are more olive-brown on the upperparts; western birds are more grey-brown.


Hermit thrushes breed across Canada, southern Alaska, and the northeastern and western United States. Some populations migrate to wintering grounds in the southern United States and south to Central America, some remain in northern coastal US states and southern Ontario. Hermit thrushes live in taiga, coniferous or mixed forests but will sometimes winter in parks and wooded suburban neighborhoods. On their wintering grounds and during migration, they can be found in moist forests and other kinds of woodlands.

Hermit Thrush habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Hermit thrushes are diurnal birds that spend most of their time searching for food. They forage on the forest floor, also in trees or shrubs, often together with other small forest songbirds. Hermit thrushes usually sing from high perches in trees or from other high open locations. Their song has been described as "the finest sound in nature" and is ethereal and flute-like. It consists of a beginning note, then several descending musical phrases in a minor key, repeated at different pitches.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Hermit thrushes are omnivores. They feed mainly on insects, small invertebrates, berries, and other fruit. They also sometimes eat small amphibians and reptiles.

Mating Habits

11-13 days
10-15 days
3-6 eggs

Hermit thrushes are monogamous and form pairs. Males arrive on breeding grounds before females and establish territories where they then attract a mate. Breeding occurs from late April to August and pairs often raise two broods in a season. After the pair was formed the female starts to build the nest; it is located on the ground and is made of grass, leaves, moss, and pine needles, usually lined with rootlets, willow catkins, or bark. The female lays 3 to 6 eggs and incubates them for 11-13 days while the male brings her food. The chicks hatch blind and helpless and leave the nest 10 to 15 days later.


Population threats

The main threats to Hermit thrushes include habitat degradation, severe weather, and collisions with buildings and transmission towers during migration.

Population number

According to Partners in Flight resource, the total breeding population size of the Hermit thrush is 72,000,000 breeding birds. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are increasing.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The Hermit thrush is the state bird of Vermont.
  • The specific name of the Hermit thrush name 'catharus' comes from Greek and means 'pure' probably referring to its song; the name 'guttatus' is Latin and means 'spotted'.
  • When Hermit thrushes forage on the ground they often hop and then freeze, peering at the ground.
  • Hermit thrushes may shake grass with their feet in order to find insects and they also shake their feet after seeing a flying predator.
  • When Hermit thrushes are about to fly they usually flick their wings or tail.
  • To build the nest, a female Hermit thrush generally spends around 7 to 10 days.


1. Hermit Thrush on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermit_thrush
2. Hermit Thrush on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22708667/94171278

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