Veeries are one of the more easily recognized thrushes in the genus Catharus because of their uniformly warm brown upperparts, indistinct spotting, and fairly plain faces with very little eyering. Hermit Thrushes have a warm brown tail that contrasts with a duller brown back. They also habitually perform a frequent tail-lift, quickly raising the tail and slowly lowering it; no other Catharus thrush does this. Swainson’s Thrushes are typically darker olive-brown on the back and tail (except on the West Coast), and they have a bold face pattern with a large buffy eyering and bolder, better defined spots on the breast. Gray-cheeked Thrushes (and the very similar Bicknell’s Thrush) are grayer brown overall, lacking the Veery’s warm reddish-brown tones. The Wood Thrush is bigger and plumper than a Veery, with much bolder spotting on the chest and belly. Brown Thrashers are considerably larger and lankier, with a longer bill, longer tail, yellow eyes, and extensive black streaking below.
Veeries breeding in Newfoundland and the far-western portion of their range tend to be darker brown above with more distinct chest spotting and darker lateral throat stripes. A very few may be as dark on the upperparts as Swainson’s Thrush or Gray-cheeked Thrush.
Find This Bird
Listen in late spring and summer, particularly early in the morning and near dusk, for the Veery’s haunting, downward-spiraling song emanating from rich woodland or forest. Upon locating one or more singing birds, walk slowly through the habitat, watching carefully for foraging birds on the ground or singing birds perched in the upper or mid-canopy. Listen for this bird’s frequent, harsh, veer calls, almost as if it is hinting its name to you.