Hard to tell them apart both the birds and the boys: a 420 character 9-liner

IMG_8333 (1)

Moving away from home helped my sons help me ID them properly.

When they were little guys I’d mix them up;

it’s the same with me & the Veery-Hermit & Wood Thrush.

“Red head is a Wood Thrush, Red tail is a Hermit Thrush, and all red is a Veery.”

But what’s warm brown vs duller brown

& what’s indistinct vs bold spotting?

I see HT do that demure tail-lift

& note that WT is plumper than V.

Perhaps they need to move away?



ID Veery 1c ACK_2879

(picture taken by ace photographer, Alex Kearney)

Veeries are one of the more easily recognized thrushes because of their uniformly warm brown upperparts, indistinct spotting, and fairly plain faces with very little eyering.

Wood Thrush:

The Wood Thrush is bigger and plumper than a Veery, with much bolder spotting on the chest and belly.

Wood Thrush 1c ACK_0474 Wood Thrush 1c ACK_0503 Wood Thrush 1mail ACK_2765

(pictures by ace photographer, Alex Kearney)

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrushes have a warm brown tail that contrasts with a duller brown back. They also habitually perform a frequent tail-lift, quickly raising the tail and slowly lowering it; no other Catharus thrush does this.

Hermit Thrush

IMG_7545drawn by me

Pouring across the fallow pepper fields, Syrian refugees walkwalkwalk; Hermit Thrushes Quiver: A 420 Character 9-line poem. CAVEAT: Oops. Just realized that this is our Brown Thrasher, NOT our Hermit Thrush. I’m conflicted: leave it and have it all add up to 420 characters or start messing with it to make it factually accurate. (There’s a metaphor here also for the Syrian refugee tragedy: time to start messing with this more? Or just leave it.)

Brown Thrasher

(photo by Marie Kennedy, skilled birder, horticulturist, and photographer)


Displaced leaves signal the presence of a Hermit Thrush

hop-scraping through the litter, foraging for grubs,

sometimes pausing to “foot quiver” due to conflicting impulses:

keep shaking bits of leaves to get bugs or go still & hide?

A dilemma facing millions of Syrian refugees

who are now in their fifth year of alternating between

foraging & quivering;

but, unlike for the HT,

the future is bleak for these displaced.


The Syrian refugee crisis in numbers; staggering but consider that this accounting is only from 2013:



In Praise of My Hermit Thrush: A poem by Veronica, otherwise known by the birders (and WWWW, as Ronnie). Move over James Audubon.


(sketch by Patty who in trying to lead the wide-awake life found herself inspired by this poem by Ronnie, fellow birder.)

In Praise of My Hermit Thrush

You scratch and peck below that scrubby bush.

Busy squirrels ignore your presence.

Their focus is on acorns; lunch for the cold winter months.

You’ve got my attention.

My brain ticks off your features:

brown above with snowy breast,

glitzed with black polka dots at the throat.

And there’s the telltale rufous- colored tail

ready to bob just like my trusty bird book says.

Those dark hazel eyes stare and

I stare back; I can’t believe you’re here.

Poets write of the sweetness of your song

that rises in the still of twilight time.

I know that you won’t sing for me today.

That’s too much to ask.

Your lowered tail announces your good bye.

I’ll miss you, my sweet little anchorite.

Thanks for showing up at my backyard door.

VRS   1-18-2013

The Hermit Thrushes we saw this week were Just Sitting and doing that genteel tail bob. (Erase all the green and replace it with white and the picture is very accurate…!) http://youtu.be/jHXYkLBSYBA

In the Spring we hear the Hermit Thrush and the Veery in our back woods exactly as it’s pictured here in this youTube. (Hurrah for youTube!!) http://youtu.be/v67gqSHb9N0

And he’s a better musician than many of us!! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/03/bird-song-music-hermit-thrush_n_6091478.html