Hermit Thrushes Dining on Berries

by Larry Jordan on January 24, 2012

Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) photos by Larry Jordan

One of my favorite things about winter in northern California is seeing my first Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) and hearing their short little tchup, tchup, tchup call, which I usually seem to think is an American Robin calling.

They come down from their breeding grounds in the higher elevations, where they sing that beautiful flutelike song, to partake of the fruit or pome of my Photinia bushes. Range map courtesy of Birds of North America Online.

They stay fairly well hidden in the shade of the bushes for the most part but occasionally flutter into the open while snagging a berry, similar to a Black Phoebe hawking an insect.

Occasionally they will briefly be seen in the leaf litter on the ground but…

more often they are noticed on a perch, cocking their tail and dropping it slowly

This week I watched two Hermit Thrushes as they quickly flew out of their hidden places to snatch a photinia berry and disappear back into the bush before you could say “Catharus guttatus.”

But every once in awhile, they would work their way to the outer branches and pause just long enough to catch them red berry beaked!

If you like seeing birds form all over the world, you will really enjoy World Bird Wednesday. It’s even more fun if you join us and post a photo of your own!

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Mia McPherson January 24, 2012 at 6:13 am

This is a wonderful post Larry, they are such beautiful birds. I have trouble getting them out in the open to photograph.


Frank Kratofil January 24, 2012 at 6:56 am

Nice series Larry. I havn’t had the chance to photograph these little beauties yet.


heyBJK January 24, 2012 at 8:26 am

Gorgeous little bird!


texwisgirl January 24, 2012 at 8:45 am

they’re beautiful with their spots.


springman January 24, 2012 at 8:48 am

Awesome captures Larry! I’m sure you were in Heaven taking in these sights. Your descriptions of the Hermit thrush are wonderfully made.
Cheers to you sir!


Boom & Gary January 24, 2012 at 9:13 am

Beautiful captures!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.


Mick January 24, 2012 at 11:23 am

Beautiful birds and great photos in among the leaves.


Andrew January 24, 2012 at 11:58 am

A wonderful little thrush Larry… your images are superb to see..


Pat January 24, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Wonderful shots! You did a great job catching them through the branches.


CaroleM. January 24, 2012 at 12:18 pm

a beautiful bird too, looks so alert


Eileen January 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Great sighting and bird, Larry! I see the Hermit Thrush around here in the winter months.


Arija January 24, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Such a pretty bird gorging itself on the red berries.


Liz January 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Great captures Larry & a great series. Looks like it’s a rather illusive bird though and not so easily captured.
I love the contrast of the red berries.


Stewart M - Australia January 25, 2012 at 1:15 am

Hi there – great pictures. Used to look forward to winter thrushes – Fieldfares and Redwings – when I lived in the UK.

Cheers – SM


joo January 25, 2012 at 8:28 am

They are lovely!


Mama Zen January 25, 2012 at 9:07 am

What a beautiful bird! Lovely shots.


OneJackdaw January 25, 2012 at 11:11 am

They are one of my favorite birds! Beautiful photos! I haven’t seen any yet this winter, will have to wait till spring.


Sallie (FullTime-Life) January 25, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Oh they are just beautiful Larry == thank you for sharing the results of your patience and talent! I love this bird.


Leena January 26, 2012 at 8:17 am

Beautiful post, Larry!


ramblingwoods January 26, 2012 at 12:51 pm

What a beautiful song and how lucky to be able to see this one…I know we have wood thrush as I have heard them, but I guess not this bird in my area..


phyllis oller January 26, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I`m so thankful for people like yourself who “keep up” on the issues of our enviroment,I shared your one blog on my facebook page.
That said,I love these birds & your are very lucky to capture them in photos.I believe the brown thrashers chase this bird away from our land in the spring,phyllis


Carletta January 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Hi Larry,
This is a lovely series of shots of the thrush!
I especially like that third one of him looking around the leaf as if he spies you and wonders if he should be concerned. Of course the rest of the images show him going about his merry business of stripping the berries from the branches. 🙂
Thanks so much for your visit.


vickie January 27, 2012 at 3:39 am

Lovely! They are such shy birds. I have at least one that hangs out near the feeders and enjoys the bird bath. How terrific to watch them in action while eating berries!


Wanda January 28, 2012 at 5:50 am

Great series. From the looks of the map, they should be in Tennessee right now. I’ll have to start looking for them.


Nicole January 28, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Those are some real Beauties! Lucky you to get to see them!


Ken Schneider January 29, 2012 at 10:21 am

Beautiful series of thrush photos!


Sallie (FullTime-Life) January 29, 2012 at 3:14 pm

They’re beautiful little birds and don’t they have the perfect spot for breakfast! And it makes a lovely photo op. Wow.


Larry January 29, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Thank you all for your wonderful comments. I really do appreciate them!


Wren January 30, 2012 at 7:50 am

Great photos! We don’t get them this far south in Michigan, so it’s a treat to share your sightings.


NatureFootstep CR Birds February 3, 2012 at 3:06 pm

we have similar ones. I find it a bit strange that there are large areas where they are not. I would have expected it to overlap.


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