Sunday, January 5, 2014

Winter of the Towhee?

Coopers Hawk
There seemed to be a difference of opinion on the temperature this morning at 8:10 a.m. My cell phone declared it a balmy 25 degrees, but the car thermometer differed at 17 degrees. Either way, it was cold, but clear and sunny.

First off, I saw a robin and a couple of blue jays but not much else. As I trudged through the snow to the sunny part of the lower gardens near the golf course side, I heard the distinctive call of the towhee. It seemed to be coming from the golf course, so I went down the path to the golf course, but it had stopped calling and I couldn't locate it.

Eventually, the sun spread to the woodsy/swamp side of the lower gardens where I saw some chickadees. Silently, a Coopers Hawk flew in to survey the situation. It was there for quite a while… A nuthatch was making its nasally sound and a pair of juncos appeared as I headed to the upper gardens. Three flocks of Canada geese flew overhead.

Near the soccer field was a beautiful cardinal, a robin, a crow flying, several juncos and a few goldfinches. I know there is a bitter battle about bittersweet, but I have to say, it seemed to be the main attraction for the birds today - especially when the snow is covering up so much. I was hoping for a golden crowned kinglet which I didn't see, but had another surprise instead.

Cold Hermit Thrush
Up above me, high on a branch was a bird with dark brown spots on it's breast, looking like a thrush, but it seemed too small. It kept flicking its tail and had a rufous sort of coloration. There was a slight eye ring and it's beak was orange with black at the tip. I thought at first it might be a Veery because of its small size, but that seemed unlikely in the winter. I knew others had seen a Hermit thrush and I've seen them before in the past, but somehow, I imagined it would be bigger. Finally when I got home and I opened my book, I realized it must be the Hermit thrush. I learned they are smaller than other thrushes and they have a habit of flicking their tails, so that decided it.

If anyone disagrees, please let me know! Thanks…

All in all, for such a cold and quiet day, it turned out to be quite nice.


  1. Hi Suzette,

    Hermit Thrush is definitely the mostly likely by season, but your description and picture fit too. I think of Veerys as being really washed out and almost ghostly because their breast spots are faint, this bird has some strong breast spots.

  2. Matt, thanks so much for the confirmation!