Hermit Thrush

On a chilly, softly clouded, breezy March morning, a Golden-crowned Kinglet called its high, thin ti-ti-ti in branches above me, and five Dark-eyed Juncos flushed up from the roadside, into low tree branches, calling in alarm with softly-ringing trills. A pair of Brown-headed Nuthatches squeaked and chattered to each other as they searched the trunk of a pine tree, both heading downward on the trunk, investigating crevices in the bark, searching for insects and other small prey.

A couple of times the sun broke through the high screen of wooly clouds, pouring down warmth that felt like magic, but when clouds closed over and the day became gray again, the feeling of sharp, icy cold returned.

Two Red-tailed Hawks soared very high, and a small flock of blackbirds flew restlessly from tree to tree around a small pond. They were too far away to see well, but didn’t look or sound like either Common Grackles or Red-winged Blackbirds, and may well have been Rusty Blackbirds. I don’t know a Rusty Blackbird’s call well enough to be sure. Because we’ve been lucky enough to see a fair number of Rusty Blackbirds here in past winters, I have missed them a great deal this year. This is one of the few occasions when I’ve seen a blackbird flock of any size, all winter long.

Brown Thrashers sang from the tops of trees in widely different spots, and one very handsome pair of Brown Thrashers posed quietly together in the branches of a small bare pecan tree. Pine Warblers trilled their songs. White-throated Sparrows and Eastern Towhees scratched in leaves and grass along a dense hedge of shrubs.

As I got back home from walking, coming down the driveway and feeling kind of glad to be back at home where I could warm my hands and make some soup for lunch, a Hermit Thrush flew out of a Savannah holly and stopped to perch on the back of a bench. It paused there for a few moments, looking over its shoulder at me nervously, raising and lowering its cinnamon tail, before it dove into the dark green leaves of a bush. Having a Hermit Thrush here to spend the winter around our yard, and seeing it from time to time like this has been one of the nicest things about this winter.

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