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Sutro Bird Watcher: The Hermit Thrush

Grab your binoculars!

Do you hear a low, gentle “cluck-cluck” coinciding with the double wing ‘flap-flap’ motion in a medium-sized brown bird on the ground in winter? Do you see a bird with a large eye? Do you see a bird with a richly-colored brown back and a reddish tail that shuffles back and forth on long, slender legs in the leaf letter under the coffee berry shrubs on Mt. Sutro? Yes? The Hermit thrush is in your sights!

The posture of the head, cocked to peer for bugs among the leaf litter, accentuates the beautiful design of the hermit thrush’s shape and coloring. With rich brown spots splashed over the upper breast, fading to grey over rounded flanks, the hermit thrush is a beauty. Field guides will refer to its rich brown back and distinctive reddish tail, a plumage that remains unchanged year-round.

The hermit thrush is the perfect model, dainty and delicate, for an illustration by Beatrix Potter. During the wet of winter months, the hermit thrush forages for bugs and berries on Mt. Sutro and along the Pacific coast from Canada through Baja.