The diet of the hermit thrush is seasonally variable, with mostly animal matter being taken in the spring and summer, including beetles, caterpillars, ants, flies and bugs, as well as small amphibians and reptiles (3) (4). During the winter, the diet is mostly made up of wild berries, such as hackberries. When foraging for insects, this species exhibits a specific behaviour known as ‘foot quivering’, which involves shaking blades of grass with its feet to detach any insects before feeding on them (3).
The hermit thrush is generally present in its southern overwintering grounds between mid-September and May, although males occasionally leave to begin their northern migration as early as March. Male hermit thrushes begin to arrive on their breeding grounds between April and May and are shortly followed by females. Southward migration after the breeding season usually begins in August and is complete by the end of November. Migration typically occurs during the night (2).
The breeding season for the hermit thrush runs from the end of April to August (2), with the male arriving before the female to establish and defend a territory (4). The female builds the bulky nest, which has an outer layer of grass, leaves, moss and pine needles and is lined with finer material such as rootlets, stalks, bark and willow catkins (2) (3) (4). The nest is usually complete after seven to ten days (3) (4), after which time the female lays between three and six pale blue, lightly speckled eggs (2) (3) (4). The eggs are incubated by the female for 11 to 13 days, and the male delivers food to the female throughout this period, which is then regurgitated for the chicks once they have hatched (3) (4). Around 10 to 15 days after hatching, the young fledge the nest (3), and they reach sexual maturity after a year of life (2).