South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Hermit Thrush

Catharus guttatus

Length: 6.75 inches Wingspan: 11.5 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: Pale underparts with dark spots, brownish upperparts, distinct light eye ring, reddish brown tail and rump.

Hermit Thrush - Catharus guttatusHardier than many of the other thrushes, the Hermit Thrush is usually the earliest spring migrant and latest fall migrant of the similar thrushes.  They can be distinguished from the similar Swainson's Thrush and Grey-cheeked Thrush by their distinctive reddish rump and tail.  They also possess a distinct light/white eye-ring.  Hermit Thrushes are known for their beautiful song. 

Habitat: Nearly any kind of wooded habitat during migration and in the winter.  Prefers conifer or mixed-forest during the breeding season.

Diet: Primarily insects in the summers, also earthworms, spiders, and occasionally small vertebrates.  Feeds heavily on berries during the winter.

Behavior: Often forages on the ground, as well as low in vegetation, searching for insects and berries.  They will also occasionally hover and glean insects from foliage or branches, or grab berries while hovering.  Hermit Thrushes often have a "nervous" look as they flick their wings and slowly pump their tail.

Nesting: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Hermit Thrush Song, also Hermit Thrush Call

Migration: Summers throughout much of Canada, the western U.S., the Great Lakes region, and the northeastern U.S.  Winters in the southern U.S., near the west coast, and points south.  Hermit Thrushes migrate earlier in the spring and later in the fall than most other thrushes, as they are better at dealing with colder weather.

Similar Species: Veery, Swainson's Thrush, Wood Thrush

Conservation Status: Widespread, numbers generally stable.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Hermit Thrush

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Hermit Thrush"

3) eNaature.com: Hermit Thrush

Photo Information: October 13th, 2008 - Beaver Creek Nature Area near Brandon, South Dakota

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Hermit Thrush photos.

 

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Hermit Thrush - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon migrant in the eastern part of the state, rare in the west.  Accidental summer visitor in the Black Hills, and accidental in the winter.