[CT Birds] Hermit Thrushes and Atlassing

Angela Dimmitt angeladimmitt at aol.com
Thu Jul 9 10:50:39 EDT 2020

A hermit thrush has been present every summer in one of my blocks in New Milford for at least ten years - in a hemlock, pine and deciduous forest on a very steep hillside which I climbed once years ago and nearly killed myself.  At the top was a pair of hermits singing together, complimenting each other, I assumed a pair, probably nesting. From the road I have ever heard only one, and this June 20, one singing and seen right by the road.  So no proof of breeding for this atlas, but strongly probable.  The old Atlas shows "possible" for this block (61A), and "confirmed" in 46E where I have heard one in the past, again up a steep climb.  Shall now try that hillside again too...if you don't hear from me, send searchers above the Housatonic, off River Road, New Milford.
There are a couple of other suitable places around here where I have heard them singing in June, but again that's it.
Angela Dimmitt
New Milford

-----Original Message-----
From: C Wood via CTBirds <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
To: CT Bird Report <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Thu, Jul 9, 2020 9:06 am
Subject: [CT Birds] Hermit Thrushes and Atlassing

Continuing on the Atlassing in July theme begun by Chris Elphick, here’s a recommendation to work on a specific bird, the Hermit Thrush.  Out of curiosity, after surveying no fewer than 10 territorial male Hermit Thrushes (Catharus guttatus) along a 1.4 mile route of in the Whittemore Sanctuary Preserve in Woodbury (which is in two of my Atlas blocks), I looked through the preliminary lists for about 100 blocks in northwest Connecticut for HETH reports.  I came up with only four confirmed breeding and fewer than 20 probables.  The 1982-1986 field work for the first Connecticut Breeding Bird confirmed nesting in only 36 of 600 survey blocks, most of which were in the northwest and northeast corners of the state.

HETH are at the southern edge of their breeding range here in Connecticut and extending along higher elevations of the Appalachians to Virginia, so it seems that the data collected on this species by Atlas work would prove valuable in assessing future impacts of climate and habitat change on bird populations and distribution.  I don’t think eBird or the Atlas has requested, but it may be worth noting elevations for any HETH records during the current Atlas research.

Cornell’s Birds of the World notes that the hard-to-find nests of the subspecies that breeds in the Northeast (C.g. faxoni) are most commonly on the ground, underneath an overhanging tree or shrub branch, or underneath fern fronds or grass clumps.  Prime nesting habitat includes small openings in a large forest area with fern thicket and grasses at higher elevations relative to surrounding area.  

I’ve posted additional information, mostly from Cornell’s Birds of the World, with some illustrations, at my Blog site here https://cswood022.blogspot.com <https://cswood022.blogspot.com/> for anyone interested.  And like Chris Elphick noted, July is about the best and easiest time to obtain confirmations by finding fledglings and parents carrying food, but even probable evidence, such as a singing bird 7 days apart, is useful.

As an aside, I’d be interested to know if anyone has come across a congregation of Hermit Thrushes like that at Whittemore.

Chris Wood
Woodbury, CT
203 558-0654

Flickr: C.S.Wood-Photos <https://www.flickr.com/gp/cswood-photos/3514fW> 
Blog:  WoodWarbling <http://cswood022.blogspot.com/?m=0> 

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