AppearanceThis species measures 15 to 18 cm in length, spans 25 to 30 cm across the wings and weighs 18 to 37 g. Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 7.8 to 11.1 cm, the bill is 1.6 to 1.9 cm and the tarsus is 2.7 to 3.3 cm. It is more compact and stockier than other North American "Catharus" thrushes, with relatively longer wings. The Hermit Thrush has the white-dark-white underwing pattern characteristic of "Catharus" thrushes. Adults are mainly brown on the upperparts, with reddish tails. The underparts are white with dark spots on the breast and grey or brownish flanks. They have pink legs and a white eye ring. Birds in the east are more olive-brown on the upperparts; western birds are more grey-brown.
BehaviorTheir breeding habitat is coniferous or mixed woods across Canada, Alaska, and the northeastern and western United States. They make a cup nest on the ground or relatively low in a tree.
Hermit Thrushes migrate to wintering grounds in the southern United States and south to Central America but some remain in northern coastal US states and southern Ontario. Although they usually only breed in forests, Hermit Thrushes will sometimes winter in parks and wooded suburban neighbourhoods. They are very rare vagrants to western Europe. It has also occurred as a vagrant in northeast Asia.
They forage on the forest floor, also in trees or shrubs, mainly eating insects and berries.
CulturalThe Hermit Thrush is the state bird of Vermont.
Walt Whitman construes the Hermit Thrush as a symbol of the American voice, poetic and otherwise, in his elegy for Abraham Lincoln, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," one of the fundamental texts in the American literary canon. "A Hermit Thrush" is the name of a poem by the American poet Amy Clampitt. A Hermit Thrush appears in the fifth section of the T. S. Eliot poem "The Waste Land".
Former Canadian indie-rock band Thrush Hermit took their name from a reversal of the two parts. It is also shared by the American bands Hermit Thrushes and Hermit Thrush.
The song of the Hermit Thrush is audible in the "Garden" stage of Super Mario Galaxy for the Nintendo Wii.
A slightly altered song of the Hermit Thrush was used for the Mockingjay's song in the early scences of the Hunger Games film. The Hermit Thrush's song, as well as the House Wren and Mourning Warbler are all very common in modern day media.
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