May 21, 2018
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Ubitiquitous hermit thrushes make nests on the ground

By Judy Kellogg Markowsky

Hermit thrushes are everywhere! Last week I saw four in Bangor, three at Fields Pond Audubon Center in Holden, three in the Northeast Penjajawoc Preserve in Bangor and two in the forest at Avalon Village in Hampden. These birds are olive-brown on the back and have orange-brown tails. When they land on the ground, they have the habit of slightly raising and lowering their tails.

The other thrushes — wood thrush, Swainson’s thrush and veery — already have left for Central or South America. Each of these species raises only a single clutch of eggs in a year.

Hermit thrushes go only as far as southern North America and Mexico for the winter, and they have two and sometimes three clutches of eggs in a year. They make nests on the ground in Maine and in the eastern part of the country. In the West, hermit thrushes make nests low on a tree branch.
In Maine the nest is usually on the ground, typically under a small fir or hemlock. The female makes her nest with leaves, small twigs, blades of grass, strips of bark, pine needles, rootlets and leaves so that it is well-camouflaged in the undergrowth.

A hermit thrush nest is identified by its size, location and the presence of rootlets that zig and zag through the nest, making it firm and sturdy.
Hermit thrushes eat many insects and fruit on the ground, including beetles, ants, caterpillars, crickets and snails.

This thrush finds its prey by picking up a leaf with its bill, or kicking back with the feet to move the leaves. Many small, edible animals live under those leaves! They also eat berries of short, low plants such as the Canada mayflower and bunchberry — just the height for a hermit thrush.
In the spring, these birds sing a beautiful song, considered one of the best of all bird songs. But now in the fall, they just say a short “chup” to one another to keep together.

Most will go south of Virginia, but occasionally a hermit thrush is found on a Christmas Bird Count in Maine.

Yoga at Fields Pond Audubon: Come to the nature center to revitalize your body and mind. We’ll begin with a yoga class to get our bodies stretched and energized, then we’ll share a healthful snack together.
A journey outside to explore the natural world will assist in awakening all of our senses. Holly Twining, Maine Audubon naturalist and yoga instructor, will lead the class 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6. The cost is $18 for members, $20 others. Advance registration is required.

For information on Fields Pond Audubon Center, call 989-2591.

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