Hermit Thrushes are birds that breed in the northern U.S. and Canada and move to the southern U.S. for the winter. They nest in forests and are unlikely to be in your backyard during the summer unless you’re in or near a good-sized woodlot. But they really love viburnum berries, and that can be a great way to see one in your own backyard. I have several large Viburnum nudum bushes that put out big clusters of berries, and most Octobers I get a Hermit Thrush dropping in to eat them. Usually they hang around for several days at a time. One year, a Hermit Thrush even stuck around until early January. (A few typically do linger in our region through the winter and are recorded on the Christmas Bird Count, so this behavior is not super unusual—but they’re usually found in the woods, not in a backyard in Allentown!)
If you live in a less urban area, you may find other fall migrants making use of your viburnums, too. If berries linger into spring, returning migrants such as catbirds, phoebes, and grosbeaks may take advantage.
Popular with Winter Birds, Too
Of course, birds that stay with us through the winter need plenty of energy to survive the cold. Some of our year-round residents that eat insects in warm weather turn to berries to make it through the winter. When my viburnum berries are ripe, a Northern Mockingbird usually shows up and hangs around for a week or two. Cardinals and Robins also love the berries. Although I haven’t seen them eating these berries in my yard, Northern Flickers, Cedar Waxwings and Eastern Bluebirds are also wintering birds that are listed as attracted to viburnum berries.