The Hermit Thrush blends well into the winter landscape. Its head and back are medium-brown and are accented by a warm, rufous tail. Its breast is patterned with brown spots that appear slightly smudged.
To further help in identifying this bird, look for behavioral clues. It will occasionally cock its tail, slowly lower it, and slightly flick its wings. When foraging, sometimes it will pick up leaf litter with its bill or shake the grass with its feet. Its diet consists mainly of insects such as beetles, caterpillars, bees, ants, wasps, and flies.
Recently, I walked up the creek trail, and I saw one perched in a tree patiently observing its surroundings. Eventually, it flew to the ground and started foraging along the edge of the path. It picked through the leaves, uncovered a few juicy worms, and gobbled them up.
At the Arboretum, I only see the Hermit Thrush in the winter. It is a short-distance migrant that breeds throughout North America (click here for a range map). So if you miss seeing it at Mt. Pisgah this winter, there is a good chance that you can see one nearby on an adventure this summer.
I wish you luck in finding this beautiful bird. I also hope that you have the opportunity sometime to hear its peaceful, sylvan song. Click here to listen.