Not so with the most mellifluous of them all, the Hermit Thrush. These russet-tailed beauties have a song that is breathtaking; almost hard to comprehend in its richness and complexity. And for woodland specklebellied thrushes, they are tough as nails.
Hermit Thrushes breed in conifer-dominated boreal forests across northern North America, ranging south at higher elevations in the mountains. In Ohio, they are very rare breeders, with relict populations confined to our largest and most intact hemlock gorges.
But we get plenty of them in migration, and more than most people probably realize in winter. This is the only thrush in the genus Catharus that overwinters primarily in North America. But they aren't easy to find in winter, and a bit of botanical knowledge will surely help your efforts if you are interested in unearthing one of these tail-pumpers in the off season.
On the Hocking Hills Christmas Bird Count last Saturday, we were delighted to come across this lush patch of Smooth Sumac, Rhus glabra, in heavy fruit. And not just because it is a good-looking plant. Fruiting sumac in winter means Hermit Thrush! Look very closely in the center of the photo, and you may see a little thrush looking back.