Hermit Thrush – Vermont State Bird

One of the wonderful harbingers of spring is the fluid call of the Hermit Thrush.  Always starting on a different key, the song is unmistakeable and just a delight.  But this time of year, while the birds are still around, all you get is a chip once in a while.

This morning, while doing some birding prior to appointments, I visited a favorite spot up by nearby Berlin Pond and along with some warblers and vireos, found this guy (or gal) hanging out in the lower branches of some trees along the road.  Not a great shot but it’s hard to get HETH’s in the open.

Hermit Thrush - Berlin IBA - Oct 3, 2013

Hermit Thrush – Berlin IBA – Oct 3, 2013

So, it got me thinking about this state bird of ours.  I did a little checking and found out that it was a contentious choice.  Here’s how one web site described it:

As in so many states, the Vermont Federated Women’s Clubs played a part in the adoption of the Vermont state bird. They adopted, in 1927, the hermit thrush (Hylocichla gutta pallasi) as their state bird.

It was not so easy for the hermit thrush to gain status as the official state bird of Vermont. According to the Vermont Legislative Directory and State Manual, Biennial Session, 1993-1994:

“Among other things, it was not considered a true Vermonter because, unlike the blue jay or crow (which were favored by some legislators), the Hermit Thrush leaves Vermont during the winter in its southward migration. The record is not clear, but this bird was selected to represent Vermont, among other things, because it has a distinctive sweet call, and because it is found in all of Vermont’s 14 counties.”

The hermit thrush was adopted as the official state bird of Vermont by an act of the Legislature in 1941, effective June 1, 1941.

State bird or not, it’s one of my favorites.  We have dozens of them on our property and they are part of our spring/summer early morning dog walks.  We don’t consider them flatlanders.

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