Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)


Hermit thrush./Tom Berriman

General: The hermit thrush’s song is sweet and flutelike. The bird is gray-brown to olive-brown above and white below, with a spotted breast. It is often seen in the lower branches of trees and shrubs, or foraging on the ground in search of insects. Hermit thrushes breed from Canada south to northern Pennsylvania and the Upper Midwest, in cool, damp mixed deciduous and coniferous woods. They are found most often in large patches of forested habitat; within such areas hermit thrushes generally use interior edges and small openings where sunlight reaches the ground to spur the growth of low, dense woody vegetation. Hermit thrushes typically nest on the ground among shrubs and small conifers. During migration and in winter, hermit thrushes depend on thick young forest and shrub habitats, when their diet consists mainly of fruits of vines and shrubs.

Status: Recent surveys indicate that the hermit thrush population is stable and may be increasing. However, the species is very sensitive to habitat loss and forest fragmentation. Hermit thrushes become most abundant in large areas of contiguous forest.

How to Help Hermit Thrushes: Local populations respond negatively to large clearcuts and positively to smaller timber harvests, including patch cuts, as well as controlled burns. Managing habitat to encourage fruiting shrubs and vines on the winter range should help the population. Hermit thrushes benefit from management and protection of large mature forested areas with a diverse vertical structure interspersed with patches of early successional vegetation.
Both public and private landowners can make young forest habitat. The Young Forest Guide explains how.

Click on the map at left to see a larger image.

For more detailed information on this animal, including references to scientific papers, download Under Cover: Wildlife of Shrublands and Young Forest. This publication can also be purchased from the Wildlife Management Institute.

Visit a habitat demonstration area within this species' range to increase your chances of seeing hermit thrushes and other wildlife that use young forest.