Monday, October 24, 2011

Hermit Thrushes Are Here

Although the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest is closed today, there is still plenty going on outside the office window!  The other day, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were clearing the fruit from the Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) trees.  Today, it was the Hermit Thrushes' turn.

These are the first Hermit Thrushes (Catharus guttatus) we've seen this winter and they are wasting no time harvesting the available fruit.  Hermit Thrushes have a relatively spotted breast and a reddish tail that contrasts with their brown back.

Although eating plenty of fruit in winter is typical Hermit Thrush behavior and not indicative of a impending cold winter, the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) outside the back door appeared to be preparing for a winter worthy of an extremely dense nest.  In the few minutes we were on the back porch, the squirrel made no fewer than twenty trips to prune small branches full of leaves and then carry the insulating material back to the nest in the crook of a Mockernut Hickory (Carya tomentosa).

Images by Mark Musselman

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