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Posts Tagged ‘Catharus guttatus’

I was thrilled on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge to see this handsome Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus), another one of our winter visitors. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes the Hermit Thrush in these words—”An unassuming bird with a lovely, melancholy song, the Hermit Thrush lurks in the understories of far northern forests in summer and is a frequent winter companion across much of the country.” Wikipedia notes that “the hermit thrush’s song has been described as “the finest sound in nature” and is ethereal and flute-like, consisting of a beginning note, then several descending musical phrases in a minor key, repeated at different pitches.”

When I first spotted the bird, I thought it might be an American Robin, because of the shape of its body and bill. The American Robin is also in the greater thrush family, but close examination showed that “my” bird lacked the reddish-orange breast color of the robin and had instead a distinctive pattern similar to that of some sparrows.

Hermit Thrush

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Last week I took a break from exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and hiked about in Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, Virginia. According to Wikipedia, this park is the largest protected natural area in the Washington D.C. metropolitan region at over 16,000 acres.  I went lighter than usual with my camera gear, carrying only my Canon SX50 superzoom camera, because I knew that I would be doing a lot of walking on hilly forest trails, which fortunately were well-marked with signs and colored blazes on the trees.

I did not see much wildlife, but was quite happy to capture these shots of a Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) that was poking about in the underbrush. The shape of the Hermit Thrush reminds me of that of the American Robin, another bird in the greater thrush family, though, of course, the breast of the Hermit Thrush lacks the distinctive reddish-orange color of the robin.

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spotted this fluffy Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)on New Year’s Day at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. In this frigid weather, all of the birds seem unusually round as they try to retain their body heat.

I don’t recall ever seeing a Hermit Thrush before, but when I did a search in my blog, I was surprised to discover that I had photographed one in December 2016 eating berries—here is a link to that posting. At that time I could not identify the species and asked for assistance. I guess I did not internalize the identification very well, for I ended up asking for help in a Facebook forum again.

It is funny how we associate certain words with memories from out childhoods. When I hear the word “Thrush,” I immediately think of the “enemy” organization in the television series “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” According to a page on the IMDb website, “In the series, the organization was merely called Thrush. Ace paperbacks, which published a series of paperback novels based on the show, had one installment in which Thrush stood for The Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity.”

This winter I am spending more time outdoors and it is exciting to discover how many birds and other little creatures are active, even in the most inclement, inhospitable weather. The challenge for me is to stay motivated and dressed warmly enough to be able to spot and photograph these little beauties, like this Hermit Thrush, that may have traveled south to winter with us.

Hermit Thrush

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was unusually cold when I set out this morning to go shooting, about 18 degrees F (minus 8 C). I always worry about birds in the wild being able to survive when it gets this cold, but somehow they manage.

As I was walking along the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park, I spotted a bird in the distance bobbing up in a tree. I couldn’t figure out what was going on until I got closer and could see that the bird was reaching up to grab some red berries that were just above its head.

At first I thought that this was an immature American Robin, but the more I look at the photos, the more I think that it is probably a different bird species. I would welcome assistance in identifying this mystery bird that obviously was berry hungry.

UPDATE:  Thanks to several knowledgeable folks on Facebook, I have learned that the bird is a Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) and the plant with the berries is an American Bittersweet vine (Celastrus scandens).

berry hungry

berry hungry

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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