Family Thrushes (Turdidae)

Least Concern

Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)


French: Grive solitaire German: Einsiedler-Musendrossel Spanish: Zorzalito colirrufo

Muscicapa guttata


, 1811,

Kodiak Island, Alaska


In the past placed in genus Hylocichla. Races form three groups, differing in size and plumage coloration: Pacific coast “guttatus group”, typically small, brown above, with grey-washed flanks; interior mountain “auduboni group”, typically large, greyish and paler above, with more extensive and contrasting spotting below; and E “faxoni group”, typically mid-sized, dull brown above, flanks washed tawny-buff. Up to 15 races sometimes recognized, but geographical variation to some extent clinal; euborius regarded as synonymous with nominate; jewetti and oromelus with slevini; munroi with auduboni; and osgoodi, verecundus and vaccinius with nanus. Eight subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. g. guttatus (Pallas, 1811) – Pacific Hermit Thrush – S Alaska and W Canada (Yukon); non-breeding W USA and N & C Mexico.
  • C. g. nanus (Audubon, 1839) – coastal SE Alaska and W Canada (British Columbia and Vancouver I); non-breeding W USA, NW Mexico (Baja California).
  • C. g. slevini (Grinnell, 1901) – W coast of USA; non-breeding NW Mexico.
  • C. g. sequoiensis (Belding, 1889) – mountains of SW USA, also NW & N Mexico in N Baja California (Sierra San Pedro Mártir) and Chihuahua; non-breeding SC USA and N Mexico.
  • C. g. auduboni (S. F. Baird, 1864) – Mountain Hermit Thrush – Rocky Mts of WC Canada and NW USA; non-breeding WC USA and Mexico S to Guatemala.
  • C. g. polionotus (Grinnell, 1918) – Rocky Mts of NC USA; non-breeding W Mexico.
  • C. g. faxoni (Bangs & T. E. Penard, 1921) – Eastern Hermit Thrush – EC & E Canada and E USA; non-breeding SE USA and NE & EC Mexico.
  • C. g. crymophilus (Burleigh & J. L. Peters, 1948) – Newfoundland and adjacent areas; non-breeding SE & SC USA.
  • Descriptive notes

    16–18 cm; 18–37 g. Nominate race is rufous-tinged greyish-brown above, shading warmer on rump and dull rufous-brown on tail, with warm brown edges of primaries;... read more


    Song, by male, commonly from top of tall conifer, a series of short (1·5–2 seconds)... read more


    Breeds in arctic-alpine woodland, boreal forests, aspen parkland, coniferous and mixed deciduous-... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly animal matter in spring and summer (93–99%); high proportion of vegetable matter in autumn and winter (44–60%). Diet of... read more


    End Apr to end Aug, average first-egg date 15th Jun (± 19 days); at least occasionally double-brooded (in one study, in years of... read more


    Migrant or partial migrant; unclear if some populations resident. Generally a short-distance... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common. In Canadian Maritime Provinces, breeding population estimated at 282,000 pairs. Nesting densities variable with... read more

    Recommended citation

    Collar, N. (2020). Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 January 2020).