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hermit thrush

hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus) Photo © Mary Kay Rubey

Features and Behaviors

The hermit thrush averages seven inches in length (tail tip to bill tip in preserved specimen). This bird has gray-brown feathers on the head, back and wings. The ventral (lower) side has white feathers with dark, red-brown spots. The tail feathers are rust-colored, and the legs are pink. The hermit thrush has large eyes and a slender beak.

This species is a common migrant and an uncommon winter resident throughout Illinois. It lives in woodlands. When perched, it may cock its tail and drop it slowly, a helpful identification trait. It makes a flutelike song. The hermit thrush breeds in conifers in Canada, Alaska, the northern continental United States, as close to Illinois as central Wisconsin, and the Rocky Mountains. The female builds the nest on the ground, usually under a small tree, shrub or other plant. Three or four, pale-blue eggs are deposited by the female and incubated by her for the 12-day incubation period. The male feeds her during this time. Spring migration occurs in late March. Most fall migrants arrive in Illinois in late September. The hermit thrush eats insects, when available, and fruits at other times.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Turdidae

Illinois Status: common, native