Scientific Name: Catharus Guttatus
Pictures: (click for larger images)
Hermit Thrush. This picture was taken by Jason Finley in the UCLA Mildred A. Mathias Botanical Garden, near the stream, in March 2005.
It was dusk at Stone Canyon Creek and THIS little guy suddenly popped out of the bushes across the creek from me. Incredibly, I was ready with the camera and in a pretty position to just freeze and shoot away! ~Jason Finley 10/30/05 at 5:30pm
Here you can see the spots on his/her front. The rarely seen Hermit Thrush salute is shrouded in mystery. He was spry enough to be perched among these thorn-ridden branches. Giving somebody the business! I think there was another Thrush around nearby. Hermit Thrush Illustration
-Illustration by Robert C. Stebbins from "Birds of the Campus" (1947) by Dr. Loye Miller.
Description: Small. 6.5"-7.5" in length (beak to tail), about the same size as a sparrow, perhaps slightly bigger. White ring around eye, reddish-brown tail, brown or greyish brown back/head, light grey , spotted breast/belly. Thin beak.
Commonality/Seasonality: Rare. And probably only in Winter. It is likely present most years, but not likely to be seen.
Location: Near the stream in the Mildred A. Mathias Botanical Garden, and also near the water at Stoen Canyon Creek where I finally got some good pictures of one (I think there were a pair there). But much of the dense (non-native) vegetation has been cleared for the restoration project in late 2005 and on through 2006, so until some native plants grow in to provide more cover, Hermit Thrushes may be less likely there.
Notes: These guys are notoriously reclusive! They like to be near water and dense vegetation. Seeing one is a rare treat. Don't expect to be able to get too close without it darting back into the bushes. I've seen one twice so far in the UCLA Botanical Garden, and once at Stone Canyon Creek.
"Hermit" is a good name for him, he slips in and out of the thicket so quietly, and even his delicious "whisper song," which he gives in March from the thick shrubbery under my office window, can be heard only from a few feet away. By October 10 I begin to listen for him.
-Miller, Loye. "Birds of the Campus, University of California, Los Angeles," from University of California Syllabus Series, No. 300. Text by Loye Miller, illustrations by Robert C. Stebbins. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1947.