Veery

Catharus fuscescens
Range Map

There is something haunting about the flute-like songs of the Catharus thrushes. Other bird species dazzle us with rapid-fire renditions of their songs, issuing more notes than we can count over brief intervals. Thrushes deliver notes so sweetly that when we hear their first note, we know it is a thrush, and we long for those notes to linger so we can enjoy them all the more. The rust-red or tawny Veery is such a bird.

Today’s science recognises five subspecies of Veery:

  • C. f. fuliginosus breeds in eastern Canada and winters in the Amazon Basin.
  • C. f. fuscescens also breed in eastern Canada, but south of C. f. fuliginosus and east to the Appalachians south to Georgia.
  • C. f. levyi breeds on the plains of southern Canada and into the Great Lakes region.
  • C. f. salicicolus breeds in British Columbia and the Rocky Mountains south to northeastern Arizona.
  • C. f. subpallidus breeds in eastern Washington and Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

Observers have noted that Veeries seem to prefer damp wetlands near beaver lodges. Their preferred habitat includes dense understory where they like to forage on the ground. Surveys have shown the Veery populations have declined. They list loss of woodland habitat as one likely cause.

Meeting the Veery was one of the many gifts provided during my attendance at the spring migrations on South Padre Island (Texas). I found them behaving much as their Catharus cousins. They rarely left the ground, and when they did, it was never more than a few feet while they surveyed the area before them. Once assured it was safe, they dropped back down and continued their advance toward their prospective food, drink, or bath.

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