Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Day of the Hermit Thrush

A few days ago, hoping to see Warblers,  I birded along the creek side of the campground in Montaña de Oro State Park (MdO).  I was listening for a mixed flock, of which the vangards are the Chestnut-backed Chickadees and the Bushtits; fortunately these little darling are constantly chattering which gives one a hint that the flock may be near.  While I was peering into the dense, dark shade of an old Monterey Cypress looking for the flock, my eye caught movement in a thick, nearby Blue Elderberry shrub. A Hermit Thrush (above) was feeding on ripe blueberries.  I watched till the little beauty flitted into the shrubbery. 

The Hermit Thrush is similar in size to an American Robin, but smaller.  They often stand upright with their slender bill slightly raised.  A variegated bold eye ring emphasized their large dark eye; they flit much less than a Warbler and can often be seen perched on a twig looking very alert.

Back to the flock as it continued to move through the Cypress.  Birds observed, Townsend's Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Hutton's Vireo, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Yellow Warbler, and a Nuttall's Woodpecker.   To my surprise I saw two more Hermit Thrush, not a usual happening, as they are mostly solitary, especially in the fall/winter.

 The rest of the campground was very quiet.  Due to the prolonged drought there is less for the birds to eat, barely any insects, and both seeds and berries are in sparse supply.  Now is when we humans need to become advocates for the birds.  If at all possible put out birdseed and or suet and water, especially if you are in California.