VEERY – (Catharus fuscescens)
The Veery is a member of the Thrush family and measures around 18 cm (7 in.) long. It is brown on its upper parts and has white under parts. The breast is beige with light brown spots. The bill is grey on top and pinkish under, and the legs are also pinkish.
The English name of this thrush is an onomatopoeia on one of its calls. The Latin name ‘Catharus’ means ‘pure’ and possibly refers to the crystalline song of some of the Old World thrushes, although the veery also has a flute-like song. The Latin name ‘fuscescens’ means ‘slightly dark’, in reference to the plumage color of this thrush.
The veery inhabits the under story of humid deciduous forests and forages on the ground for insects by flipping or trashing dead vegetation, and will occasionally catch insects on the fly. They also eat berries. They nest on or near the ground, in a well-sheltered area such as under a thorny shrub.
Although the veery breeds on PEI, observations of this species of bird on the island so far have been reported as ‘uncommon’ (spring and summer), or ‘rare’ (fall). Its breeding range encompasses the south of Canada and the north of the USA. It migrates to eastern South America for the winter, especially Brazil.
Conservation: although not listed on any special concern list yet, the veery is experiencing a decline in its population since the last few decades. It is impacted in its wintering grounds by deforestation for agriculture. Habitat fragmentation in its breeding range makes it more vulnerable to predators and parasites such as the Brown-headed Cowbird. Destruction of the under story, either by clearing or by deer browsing, is also detrimental to the veery.