Living Bird Magazine
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Turdidae
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.More ID Info
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.
- Zorzalito Rojizo (Spanish)
- Grive fauve (French)
- Cool Facts
- 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 Latin fuscus, 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.
- Brown-headed Cowbirds often lay their eggs in Veery nests. Veery parents tolerate (or don’t recognize) the interlopers’ eggs and young. In one encounter, adults even fought off a snake that had attacked a cowbird fledgling. Nesting in thorny shrubs may help protect against cowbirds.
- The oldest known Veery—a banded male—was at least 13 years old when researchers recaptured and released him during banding operations in Delaware in 2010.