Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Wood Thrush Nest

On a leaf-screened limb of a large white oak just outside our bedroom windows, a Wood Thrush is sitting in her nest. Nearby, at the edge of the woods and all around the back yard, the male Wood Thrush is singing.

I discovered the nest only a few minutes ago, around 1:30 this afternoon. Until yesterday, I hadn’t even heard one singing in our woods this spring – or for the past several years, except for the occasional one passing through – so I couldn’t have been more surprised.

Early yesterday afternoon, after several very busy days that kept me from spending as much time outside as usual, I had a few minutes to sit on our back deck after lunch and read. The weather was warm and humid, the sky pale blue with big restless gray and white clouds. Thanks to a good soaking rain over the weekend – after a long stretch of very dry weather – the grass and all the plants and trees looked fresh again, as if they had been washed in green. A gusty wind rushed through the woods, tossing the branches and leaves of the oaks, sweet gums and pines, and making the air feel clean and sweet. Now and then the wind paused, and the trees stood still.

From deep in the leaves near the edge of the woods came the flute-like, musical song of a Wood Thrush. It came like a gift, like the rain, refreshing and calming in a time that has been rather tense and demanding. For several minutes, I just sat and listened, surrounded by green leaves and serenaded by the music.

The song of a Wood Thrush used to be common in our woods all spring and summer, but for the past few years, we have rarely heard one here though one or two have continued to sing in other parts of our neighborhood. So I felt lucky to have one with us, even if only for a day or two.

This morning the Wood Thrush continued to sing all morning, right outside my window. After lunch, I went outside again – and just happened to catch sight of the female as she flew into the white oak only a few feet above me, and slipped down into her nest. The nest is about halfway out on a relatively low limb. It’s screened by leaves, but not hard to see if you know it’s there. Through the scope, we can see her wide, alert eyes and creamy white throat with dark streaks, and when she rose up for a few seconds to scratch, the bold black spots on her breast.

I’m amazed to have them nesting so near our house and almost don’t want to go out on the deck at all, for fear of disturbing her. We can watch her through the scope from inside. Right now, just after 2:00 pm, the male continues to sing all around the back yard as thunder rumbles around.


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