Sunday, January 25, 2015

Hermit Thrushes

If you are beginning birder, you mostly just have to shake your head at thrushes.  Little brown things with speckles, all looking the same.  After a while, though, most of them are pretty easy to tell apart.  Definitely so, if you get to hear them sing.  (The thrushes are hands down my favorite singers of the bird world.)

So here's the guy we saw at The Brig last weekend.  This angle makes for a good photograph, but it does a terrible job of showing you one of the most distinctive features of a hermit thrush.

Here, this photograph shows it well - the hermit thrush is the only one to have a heavy wash of rufous on its tail and flanks.  Given that, and its presence this far north in the winter, this little guy has to be a Hermit.

Hermit Thrushes, I think, have maybe the most interesting call of all the thrushes.  Veery songs start high and loop downward, Swainson's Thrush songs start low and loop upward, and Wood Thrush songs sound like a strange mix of whistles and broken springs.  But a Hermit Thrust sings repeated phrases in different registers, all very ethereal and a bit sad, and just lovely :)

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