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Hermit Thrushes Migrating & Stopping Over to Refuel

10-7-14 hermit thrush  092The Hermit Thrush is often one of the last thrushes to leave its breeding grounds in the fall — peak migration is between the end of September and the middle of October. High pressure, clear skies and wind from the north usually produce many sightings of this bird at this time of year. Unlike many other species of thrushes that winter in Central or South America, the Hermit Thrush is not a long distance migrator, and does not cross the Gulf of Mexico. Approximately one-third of all migratory flights end after only two to three hours of flight. Typically it makes several two-to-six-day stopovers to refuel before reaching its wintering grounds in southern U.S. and Mexico.

The Hermit Thrush is a nocturnal migrant, often departing roughly half an hour after sunset (over half of departures occur within 60 minutes after sunset and none after midnight) with most flights ending about 40 minutes before sunrise (none later than 20 minutes before sunrise). (Flight information from Birds of North America Online)

Inadvertently, the person responsible for my being able to photograph a Saddleback Caterpillar was not mentioned in yesterday’s post. Many thanks to Rick Palumbo for his extraordinary help with this endeavor.

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12 responses

  1. Kathy

    Is that burning bush that the hermit thrush is perched on and eating a berry from? Just goes to show how invasive plants get their seeds spread.

    October 7, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    • Yes it is…I wondered if someone would mention that!

      October 7, 2014 at 3:31 pm

  2. Viola

    This is such an extraordinary picture. Birds are difficult to photograph; they move so fast and are often hidden by leaves or blend in with their surroundings. This is a gem. Great job, Mary! and, as always, interesting information.

    October 7, 2014 at 3:49 pm

  3. I love this bird and its haunting calls that echo through the woods in breeding season. I always stop and just listen for a while when I hear it. Ethereal.

    October 7, 2014 at 7:07 pm

  4. meade cadot

    Nice story, Nice photo, nice bird –but fruit not nice–“burning bush” is an exotic invasive, spread by thrushes and other birds. Next time catch the bird on a crab apple!

    Keep the good stuff coming.


    October 7, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    • Yes, I was hoping no-one would recognize the Euonymus alatus…will aim for a native plant next time, as you suggested, but I take what I can get!

      October 7, 2014 at 10:36 pm

  5. Libby

    Hi Mary, what tree is this thrush feeding in???? I’m looking to plant good bird and bee food in our new yard…….I am suspicious that this berry is an invasive, though…..thanks!!

    October 7, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    • You are right, Libby, it is the invasive Euonymus alatus — my blog readers are mighty sharp. I figured a hermit thrush on an invasive was better than no hermit thrush!

      October 7, 2014 at 10:37 pm

  6. While I recognize (as I know you do, since you told me!) that the bush is an invasive, I still love this photograph! It is a beautiful composition and a wonderful picture of the hermit thrush. Keep the beautiful photographs coming!

    October 9, 2014 at 3:33 pm

  7. Amazing picture and good reading. The song of the hermit thrush hovers on the verge of taking the number one favorite spot over white-throated sparrow and loon. Except when I hear one of the latter two.

    October 14, 2014 at 12:40 am

    • I feel EXACTLY the same way about those three birds’ songs.

      October 14, 2014 at 2:32 am

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