Veery (Catharus fuscenscens)

Photo by Scott Franke Veery by Scott FrankeVeery distribution map


Population Information

Federal BBS information can be obtained at by clicking on Trend Estimates and selecting the species in question. All estimates are for 1966-2005.

Life History

Habitat Selection

The Veery is considered to be a “forest habitat generalist” in the northwoods (Pearson and Niemi 2000). In northern Wisconsin, Veeries occur fairly commonly in northern mesic forests (Hoffman 1989a), shrub carr and alder thickets (Hoffman 1989b), boreal forest (Mossman et al. 1990), conifer bogs (with hardwood understory) and hardwood swamps (Hoffman and Mossman1993), moist white pine forests (Hoffman and Mossman 1990), and deciduous forest types on the Apostle Islands (Temple and Harris 1985). They occur uncommonly in southern floodplain and moist upland forests (Mossman 1988, Mossman and Hoffman 1989), and rarely in other forested habitats such as pine and oak barrens (Mossman and Epstein 1991). These studies and Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas data (Epstein 2006) concur that Veeries are able to use a wide variety of mesic to wet forest cover types and successional stages provided there is thick deciduous undergrowth present. Veeries are an area-sensitive species. In Illinois Herkert (1995) found the average forest size of a Veery breeding area to be 309 ha. In southern Wisconsin, Veeries are likely to be found only in woodlots larger than 25 ha (Temple 1989). Veeries nest on the ground or within approximately 1.5 meters of the ground. Ground nests are sometimes situated at the bases of stumps, under fallen logs, or in clumps of grasses or mosses (Moskoff 1995).

Habitat Availability

Veeries are found in a wide variety of forest habitats, resulting in a broad distribution throughout the state. They are most common in northern and central Wisconsin forests, but also occur southward in large forested tracts such as the Baraboo Hills (Mossman and Lange 1982), the Wyalusing area in Grant County, and the Kettle Moraine State Forest. Many of these forest habitats used by Veeries remain common throughout the state, although forest fragmentation is a concern.

Population Concerns

This species remains widespread and relatively common in Wisconsin where breeding activity was documented in 60% of quads surveyed during the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas (Epstein 2006). However, Breeding Bird Survey data suggest significant declines in Wisconsin and range-wide for this species (Sauer et al. 2005). Factors influencing these declines are not well understood. Habitat fragmentation and concomitant nest parasitism may play a role. Increased browsing of understory by growing populations of white-tailed deer is likely problematic in many areas, but this remains undocumented (Moskoff 1995). Habitat destruction on the wintering grounds also is cause for concern.

Recommended Management

Management efforts for Veery should focus on maintaining patches of dense deciduous understories within large forest blocks. Reducing deer densities in known Veery breeding areas may be one conservation strategy. However, addressing habitat loss on the wintering grounds should be a high priority since it is unclear if this is the primary limiting factor of this species. Conservation and management strategies for this species should be focused in the following Wisconsin ecological landscapes: Central Lake Michigan Coastal, Central Sand Hills, Central Sand Plains, Forest Transition, North Central Forest, Northeast Sands, and Northern Highland (WDNR 2005).  

Research Needs

Research is needed regarding the impacts of habitat loss and fragmentation on both the breeding and wintering grounds. More information is needed on different aspects of the Veery’s breeding biology, including nest site selection and occurrence of multiple broods.  Studies that investigate the reproductive success in various habitats are warranted (Howe et al. 1992). Finally, research into the wintering distribution of this species is urgently needed.

Information Sources


Contact Information

Kreitinger, K., Y. Steele and A. Paulios, editors. 2013.
The Wisconsin All-bird Conservation Plan, Version 2.0. Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Madison, WI.

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