Hermit Thrush


For a few weekends now I have been taking snowy walks in Rock Creek. I have been seeing a bird that I was assuming, at first glance, was an American Robin, because it was among the Robins foraging on the ground using the same technique as a Robin in the leaf litter. It also had a similar size and shape. I thought perhaps it was an immature Robin or for whatever reason, had just not yet taken on the proper color of a Robin.

I also thought, a couple of weeks ago, that I had seen some sort of Wren, by virtue of a certain tail flicking I was seeing at one point. (I am now re-thinking that)

Today, I saw yet again, this “Robin” without the expected coloration of a Robin, and a few minutes before, had seen what I thought at first was a Robin, but which then did some tail flicking (on a tree branch) in a way I don’t remember a Robin ever doing.

The videos below don’t show quite the amount of tail flicking I saw today, but I now believe with maybe 75 percent certainty that I have now seen what is called a Hermit Thrush. Since the Robin is in the same “Thrush” family, it is not surprising that the Hermit Thrush presents itself to me “like a Robin”. I am so glad that I finally took my binoculars with me on the walk, instead of my camera, which doesn’t have enough zoom to do birds justice anyway. Tomorrow, assuming the flock of them is still there by the creek, I will see if my certainty bumps itself up or down from 75%.


I don’t know if these Hermit Thrushes are going to be around all spring and summer, or if I just happen to be catching them passing through.

We always think of the Robins returning during the spring, but the Robins have been down in Twin Falls Rock Creek (Old Towne Parkway), despite the largest snowfall in the valley in maybe 50 years, and some days of extremely cold temperatures, the entire winter. They, along with these Hermit Thrushes, –if I may be so bold as to claim accurate identification,– work the–mostly damp–leaf litter in places where the snow has melted on slopes facing the afternoon sun.  The Flickers, which are numerous often work the same ground in concert with the Robins.

Perhaps I would just mention in addition to these Hermit Thrushes, which I am somewhat excited about, the bird watching down below the factories this winter, in Rock Creek (Old Towne Parkway) has been great!  Now, I don’t know if it has been great because I don’t expect, typically, to find a lot of birds in the dead of winter, or because it is the perfect habitat for all these birds during the wintertime.   The creek has NOT frozen over and there are warmer patches of water, I believe, where the treated sewer water and treated factory run off runs into the creek.

The birds I continue to see this winter there are:

Rough Legged Hawk
Belted Kingfisher
Hermit Thrush
House Finch
Cedar Waxwings
Downy Woodpecker
Dark-Eyed Junco
(a tiny bird I haven’t identified)
Rock Doves

The photo at the top of this posting is from today and this photo is also from today, shared to show the snow cover:



A photograph of a 1963 illustration by MIRKO HANAK of Czechoslovakia.

Today I learned that Kingfishers do not nest in trees or on the ground, but rather dig a tunnel in the side of the bank and lay their eggs on what the poet Charles Olson calls “rejectamenta”,..

Here is a snippet from his long poem entitled The Kingfishers:

It nests at the end of a tunnel bored by itself in a bank. There,
six or eight white and translucent eggs are laid, on fishbones
not on bare clay, on bones thrown up in pellets by the birds.
                           On these rejectamenta
(as they accumulate they form a cup-shaped structure) the young are born.
And, as they are fed and grow, this nest of excrement and decayed fish becomes
                                  a dripping, fetid mass

Well, the “fetid mass” is not so exciting to contemplate, but the rest of this is quite interesting. How did I not know this before now?

A review of Wikipedia on “Kingfishers” was eye-opening.


You’d never know it, but this bird has striking black and white coloration on the undersides of it’s wings that you can see when it flies, making it easy to identify in flight.

A Willet Stands on a Fence Post with only one leg


Yellow Warbler

Sometimes if you just sit and wait, attentively, with your eyes open, you might spot some movement in the branches. (Photo 1). And if you remain attuned and lucky, you might then see, as I did, something striking. (Photo 2)

Yellow Warbler partially concealed by leaves on a tree branch


Yellow Warbler in thorny bush

Briefly Conspicuous

Snowy Egret

Come to think of it, I tried to photograph Snowy Egrets with my very first camera and roll of film back in High School. They represent, in that way, the beginning of me holding a camera. That first time they all flew off before I could get very close and I only captured one of their silhouettes against the sun’s rays. The result was interesting enough to have my Dad express a bit of jealousy when he finally saw it weeks later projected on the screen as we sat around the kitchen table to see the results of my first roll. It was beginner’s luck of course, or.. a simple willingness to wildly point and click with little forethought.

This Snowy Egret, in Southern California and accustomed to people nearby, was less skittish than those 20+ years ago at that Snake River inlet, which made for a nice haiku like moment.



Snowy Egret Leaping out of the water and beginning flight


I’ll have to see if I can track down that old slide photo and post it here.


Once, in my backyard, I went out to get closer look at some baby killdeer. There were two of them. The parents flew up and circled about 30 feet above the yard calling constantly to their youngsters. They would, on command, both move and freeze. Ultimately they got to a small tree and flattened the bottom of their neck and chin against the trunk, with their beak pointing straight up against the trunk. They stayed there, frozen, attempting to appear, I suppose, as a thicker part of the base of the tree trunk. It was, to me, impressive that they could, at that young age, already understand these commands from their parents, and impressive how they instinctively knew how to camouflage themselves at the base of the tree. It was fun to witness and after a minute or two I left so they could relax.

The first image here is of a Killdeer with youngsters about. There are 4 young ones. See the blurry one at the top of the photo? The picture below that is a second later, when all of them, on command, scurried under their parent and hid. You can still see one of their legs.

Killdeer with youngsters

Killdeer with youngsters

Killdeer with youngsters hiding under him/her

Killdeer with youngsters hiding under him/her


I read today that Killdeer come out of their eggs running.