I was fortunate to have this Veery approach so close. These are normally fairly shy and elusive birds of the forest, so it was a special treat to have one in close proximity and to be so relaxed. Notice anything odd in this image? The Veery is perched on one leg and has the other nestled up into the soft feathers on it's breast. In another image taken just before this one, I can see the leg partially showing in the breast feathers. This is not something you see too often...or at least I haven't...not on a song bird.
This small forest thrush gets its name from the cascade of “veer” notes that make up its ethereal, reedy song—a common sound at dusk and dawn in summer in the damp northern woods. Most Veeries are a warm cinnamon brown above, with delicate spots on the throat; though far northwestern and northeastern populations are darker brown. These birds hop through the forest understory as they forage for insects and fruit. They spend winters in South America.
Cool Facts (allaboutbirds.org)
- Long thought to winter across the northern third of South America, but a recent study indicated that, in fact, the wintering grounds of the Veery are restricted to central and southern Brazil.
- A study of migration using radio telemetry showed that the Veery can fly up to 285 km (160 mi) in one night, and that it can fly at altitudes above 2,000 m (1.2 mi).
- The Veery’s scientific name reflects its vocal prowess as well as its plumage coloring. Catharus comes from the Greek katharos, for “pure”—probably a reference to the quality of its song. Fuscescens, from the Latinfuscus, means “dusky.”
- Veeries and many other songbirds migrate long distances at night. Many of these migrants alternate flapping with coasting, but Veeries may flap continuously throughout an entire night’s flight. Their efficient wings carry them over longer transoceanic routes than other thrushes can manage, on relatively small stores of fat.
- One place Veeries breed is in damp areas near beaver wetlands. As beavers make a comeback from extensive hunting, these wetlands are on the increase—possibly good news for Veery populations.