Birds – Wood Thrush

(Turdus mustelinus)


Length—8 to 8.3 inches. About two inches shorter than the robin.

Male and Female—Brown above, reddish on head and shoulders, and shading into olive-brown on tail. Throat, breast, and underneath white, plain in the middle, but heavily marked on sides and breast with heart-shaped spots of very dark brown. Whitish eye-ring.

Migrations—Late April or early May. October. Summer resident

When Nuttall wrote of “this solitary and retiring songster,” before the country was as thickly settled as it is to-day, it possibly had not developed the confidence in men that now distinguishes the wood thrush from its shy congeners that are distinctly wood birds, which it can no longer strictly be said to be. In city parks and country places, where plenty of trees shade the village streets and lawns, it comes near you, half hopping, half running, with dignified unconsciousness and even familiarity, all the more delightful in a bird whose family instincts should take it into secluded woodlands with their shady dells. Perhaps, in its heart of hearts, it still prefers such retreats. Many conservative wood thrushes keep to their wild haunts, and it must be owned not a few liberals, that discard family traditions at other times, seek the forest at nesting time. But social as the wood thrush is and abundant, too, it is also eminently high-bred ; and when contrasted with its tawny cousin, the veery, that skulks away to hide in the nearest bushes as you approach, or with the hermit thrush, that pours out its heavenly song in the solitude of the forest, how gracious and full of gentle confidence it seems! Every gesture is graceful and elegant; even a wriggling beetle is eaten as daintily as caviare at the king’s table. It is only when its confidence in you is abused, and you pass too near the nest, that might easily be mistaken for a robin’s, just above your head in a sapling, that the wood thrush so far forgets itself as to become excited. Pit, pit, pit, sharply reiterated, is called out at you with a strident quality in the tone that is painful evidence of the fearful anxiety your presence gives this gentle bird.

Too many guardians of nests, whether out of excessive happiness or excessive stupidity, have a dangerous habit of singing very near them. Not so the wood thrush. ” Come to me,” as the opening notes of its flute-like song have been freely translated, invites the intruder far away from where the blue eggs lie cradled in ambush. Uoli-a-e-o-li-noli-nol-aeolee-lee ! ” is as good a rendering into syllables of the luscious song as could very well be made. Pure, liquid, rich, and luscious, it rings out from the trees on the summer air and penetrates our home like a strain of music from a stringed quartette.