The Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) is a common winter visitor in Western Washington and is very similar in appearance to our summer visistor, the Swainson’s Thrush. Hermit Thrushes are richly colored with brown upperbodies, smudged spots on the breast, and a reddish tail.
Migrating birds may show up in yards with berry-producing trees and shrubs or gently moving water sources. Hermit Thrushes are ground foragers searching for insects and in the winter, berries and other fruits. They can be found in mixed flocks of other small songbirds like chickadees, kinglets, and creepers.
Hermit Thrushes use very different habitats between summer and winter. During the summer their habitat includes the northern boreal forest, mountain glades, and pond edges. In winter, look for them in lower-elevation forests with dense understory, lots of berries, and mixed woods. These ground nesters will raise 1-2 broods per year after the female spends 7-10 days building the nest using grasses, bits of wood, mud, fine plant materials, and other similar items. Egg incubation takes 11-13 days and nestlings fledge after 10-15 days. Photo credit: Hermit Thrush by Joe Halton