Hermit Thrush

On a crisp, cold, brightly sunny morning, the sky burned a clear, cloudless blue. Touches of red, orange, yellow and rust spotted the green trees and shrubs like confetti. It was a beautiful fall day, and yet, all through the neighborhood a strange quiet prevailed. In the big grassy yards were no feeding flocks of small birds, not even a bluebird or a robin. No towhees or thrashers or sparrows around the shrubs. The trees on the edge of the woods stood quiet, and even the old field appeared empty of birds except for Blue Jays everywhere and American Crows flying over now and then. Gradually I could find the chattering calls of Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice and Carolina Wrens, an Eastern Towhee here and there, all sounding far away in the distance. The chuck-chuck calls of Red-bellied Woodpeckers were closer, and an occasional whinny from a Downy. 

From somewhere in the leaves of a water oak on the very edge of the road, surrounded by a thin tangle of fading grasses and weeds, skimpy bushes and vines, came a low, liquid call. Chup. Repeated again and again. Chup. Chup. It’s not possible to capture in words how lovely it is, the call of a Hermit Thrush, though it sounded somewhat forlorn in this spot, sitting on a branch among the spotty, orange-brown leaves of a vine that twisted up the trunk. The Hermit Thrush sat directly above me, so what I could see was its pale underside and the dark-spotted throat and breast, and the lifted head with its watchful eye. The reddish tail lifted and lowered, lifted and lowered, as it continued to call the low chup, chup. I only watched it for a few moments, before walking on, not wanting to disturb it more. 

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