By Any Other Name It Would Be A Crab

Greetings everyone! It has been a big weekend with the release of this Wildlife Blog.  In tribute of that new chapter, I bring you another wildlife post…Hermit Thrush shot near West Alton Missouri (Ellis Island) March 2014

This cute little specimen was shot on a birding trip down by Alton Illinois back in March 2014. My catalog system was slightly compromised because I put this up in the Birding Illinois gallery. Technically we were birding Illinois until we went over the bridge into West Alton which puts us officially in the State of Missouri. What’s a few thousand feet between birding friends hehehe. While on the other side of the river we paid a visit to one of our usual spots down there – Ellis Island. This is the first time I explored the trails at the end of the main trail from the parking lot. Most of the time we entertain ourselves with the backwaters on the left side of the trail looking for interesting waterfowl. Little did I know there were some nice trails that take you through a nice variety of landscapes (wooded, clearing etc.). This specimen was hanging out on some vines on the edge of the timber.

Hit the jump to find out what this bird is and see a couple more shots (although the one you are looking at is the best of the lot)


Hermit Thrush shot near West Alton Missouri (Ellis Island) March 2014

Now this little bird with its cute collection of spots and brown/white palette caused quite a hardship for me on the ID front. My go to ID for brown birds with spotted breast is the Louisiana Waterthrush. This is more born out of the fact that I DO NOT have a Louisiana Waterthrush than a real good grasp of the features seen here. This is amplified by the fact Ron has a Louisiana Waterthrush and was able to get it in the tin while out birding with me – yours truly struck out badly on that day. A quick verification on Cornell’s site confirmed what I already knew – no white eyebrow, not heavy enough streaks and too small. Cornell then offered up the Ovenbird which looked a lot closer to this specimen. Even the region looked good. The problem was the lighter spots vs the more streaks of the Ovenbird. The other options Cornell offered up as alternatives only got me further from the ID. Frustrated, decided to thumb through the reference books – getting pretty good at knowing what it is not allowing me to cross over sections pretty fast. Eventually a similar reference was discovered. Light spots – check, light eye-ring – check although this one seemed pretty pronounced, brown/white coloring – check, multi-colored bill – check. Then the tipping point – a reddish tail contrasting with the brown of the brown/gray body. The first shot gives the best view of that feature – I’d say we have a match. Not sure why Cornell couldn’t help me to that end. Note, the reverse is also a stale path from Hermit Thrush to Ovenbird.
Hermit Thrush shot near West Alton Missouri (Ellis Island) March 2014

Thanks to Ron for validating this for me as well – always like to have a second opinion. With the ID out of the way, I can get to some interesting facts (none too soon since we be out of pictures). First off, their wintering grounds do come up through the bottom of Illinois so that aligns with our timeframe. According to Cornell, they have a unique hunting technique they call “foot quivering”. This consists of taking grass blades and shaking them to stir insects. Oddly enough there also appears to be a regional difference in this species with Western (West of the Rockies) inhabitants preferring trees for their nests where the Eastern group tend to build ground nests. Seems like an odd difference unless it is based on differing predators in each of those areas. Not much else to relate. Now just need to go add a +1 to my bird list – yeah!

Catch you again real soon!

 

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4 thoughts on “By Any Other Name It Would Be A Crab”

  1. Thanks – I’m still getting the kinks out, but I think it is coming together pretty nice. Hard part is trying to address the huge backlog of processing from all the trips we’ve taken overt the last couple of years. Seems like I get a few months worth processed and next thing I know we are off on another wildlife shoot putting me even further behind. One of these years we have to get up there to the Northwest – lots of birds up there I need to get checked off my list! Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment – glad you are enjoying.

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  2. Yes, I’m sure this is a Hermit Thrush. I got my first pictures of one at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, and it was on a pretty cold day before leaves were out. It was skittering around on the ground, as you say. I believe we also got pictures of one of these at Allerton (after we crossed the field with the Eastern Kingbird into the woods on the far side), perhaps, or one of the other places we birded last year. I think we saw a couple flying between low trees wherever that was.

    Really nice shots! It’s hard to get interesting pics of a dull brown bird against a brown background, but you got the tones just right. I’ve never heard of that “foot quivering” behavior. I wonder if that would constitute tool-using–I don’t see why not.

    Ron

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    1. I need to go look back at my Allerton shoot and see if I got one in the tin while we were there. That might be one of those times where you were able to get a shot and I was left empty handed – much like the time you were able to tin that Waterthrush at Jubilee and all I got was a frame full of empty tree branches – still bummed about that.

      Hmmm – you might be on to something with the tool concept. Not sure that bodes well for your though, if they figure out how to throw acorns you are going to be in big trouble the next time they attack you.

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