U.S. State Bird of Vermont -
Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush

The Hermit Thrush breeds in the lush understory of Northern forest habitats and the moist high elevation forest habitats in the West. They are usually found on the ground and low branches of shrubs and trees.

The song is easily recognized and they are often first noticed as they kick leaves away while looking for insects.

Hermit Thrush fly South in the Winter to the Southern U.S. and Mexico. They also Winter along the West Coast in Washington, Oregon and California.

  • Official Vermont State Bird: Hermit Thrush
  • American Ornithologists' Union Common Name: Hermit Thrush
  • Family: Turdidiae, Thrushes
  • Scientific Name: Catharus guttatus
  • Length: Male: 6.75" (17 cm)
  • Diet: Insects, spiders, earthworms, small salamanders; much fruit, especially in winter. Young fed insects, perhaps some fruit.
  • Voice: Song ethereal, fluting, without clear rising or falling trend; begins with a long whistle followed by two or three higher twirling phrases fading at end; successive songs differ. Taiga/Eastern and Interior West birds sing liquid pure tones seeeeee freediila fridla-fridla. Pacific song a little higher, harsher, more mechanical-sounding zreeeeew cheedila chli-chli-chli; introductory note often down slurred and buzzy. Call a low, soft, dry chup reminiscent of muffled blackbird call; slightly higher and sharper by Pacific and Interior West birds; also a whining, rising zhweeee. Fligh call a clear, plaintive whistle peew without husky or buzzy quality of other thrushes.
  • Habitat: Conifer or mixed woods, forest floor; in winter: woods, thickets, parks.
  • Displays: Agonostic: wing flicking, crest raising, also sleeked erect posture with bill pointed upward.
  • Number of broods: 2
  • Nest: On ground (usually in east) or low in deciduous or coniferous tree (west); of weeds, rotted wood, twigs, grass, moss, occasionally middle layer of mud, lining of fine materials.
  • Eggs: Averages 3-6 greenish-blue eggs, usually unmarked, rarely flecked with black. 0.8" (22 mm).
  • Incubation period: 12-13 days
  • Fledge: 12 days after hatching
  • Longevity Record: 10 Years and 10 months
    A new record was set in 2009 as a previously banded bird was recaptured and released in Maryland - data from the USGS Bird Banding Lab)

Hermit Thrush Song Video

Excellent Video of Male Hermit Thrush singing.

Hermit Thrush Nest Video

Two chicks are almost ready to fledge from the ground nest.


No. 1 of the Acts of 1941 established the Hermit Thrush as the official Vermont State Bird, effective June 1, 1941. Attaining this status was not, however, an easy flight for the Hermit Thrush. Among other things, it was not considered a true Vermonter because, unlike the blue jay or crow (which were favored by some legislators), the Hermit Thrush leaves Vermont during the winter on its southward migration.

The record is not clear, but this bird was selected to represent Vermont, among other things, because it has a distinctive sweet call, and because it is found in all of Vermont's 14 counties.

Source: Office of the Secretary of State, Vermont Legislative Directory and State Manual, Biennial Session, 1993-1994, Vermont State Bird p. 12.

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