Hermit Thrush

The sky late today was very dark and gray, after a day of off and on drizzling rain. It was about the time of sunset, but no hint of sunset color could be seen. I walked through a fine mist of chilly fog.

At the crest of a wooded hill, a bird the shape of a robin but not nearly as dark or as large ran quickly across a patch of wet brown leaves beside a driveway. In the misty light it looked like a pale brown wraith in the shape of a bird. It stopped and looked around, head held high – and I knew it had to be a Hermit Thrush. I wished for binoculars but hadn’t carried them with me, and in the dim light they might not have helped anyway. I stood still, and the thrush stood still for a few moments. Then it flew up into a very small, bare tree, and perched there, quickly raising and slowly lowering the tail, and flicking its wings. From there, it flew to another small tree, staying in the wooded area along the driveway. It was quiet – I wished for a familiar call of chup, but still it was a delight to see, maybe a particular delight because of the dark gray, fading light and the fog. Seeing a Hermit Thrush for the first time this season in this setting held a special charm.

A short walk further down the hill, in scrubby trees on the edge of another yard, I heard the tsup call of an Eastern Phoebe – and then quite distinctly, the chup of a Hermit Thrush. It seemed to me that this must be a second thrush, though it’s possible it was the same one that had flown down the hill. It was far enough away so that it’s more likely to have been a different one, but I don’t know for sure.

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