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Veery

Catharus fuscescens ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: TURDIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

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.

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Songs

The name “Veery” was inspired by the song that males use to defend territory. A series of variations on veer, the song descends slightly in pitch, and resonates as if whirling around inside a metal pipe. A group of nineteenth-century observers called it “an inexpressibly delicate metallic utterance…accompanied by a fine trill which renders it truly seductive.”

Calls

Veeries emit a variety of whistled, squealed, and chattering calls. The most common is a distinctive, abrupt veer or jeer note that can make these birds easy to find even when they are not singing.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

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.

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