November Twilight – Partial Song of a Hermit Thrush

Just after sundown last night, the sky was clear, violet-gray, orange on the horizon, and the last warm, hoarded light made maples, oaks, sweet gums and tulip poplars glow as if lit from within, briefly, before they faded. Gone are the long, lingering twilights of summer. There were few birds to see, but many to hear as they settled in for the night – peeps of Cardinals, whistle of Mourning Dove wings, gentle moans of Bluebirds, mews of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, chips of Yellow-rumped Warblers and Chipping Sparrows, tseet calls of White-throated Sparrows, little chits and ticks of Chickadees and Titmice, tsup of Phoebe, the muted rough call of a Mockingbird. A small flock of Robins flew over.

From the edge of a rough patch of woods came the airy, ornate notes of part of a Hermit Thrush’s song, like a summer leaf drifting down, falling only once. I stopped to listen, but heard no more. Hermit Thrushes come to spend the winter here, but I seldom hear them sing here, so this was an unexpected, rare, fleeting pleasure.

Then White-throated Sparrows began to sing from all around, hesitant, often partial songs, sometimes a bit off-key, but others true and sweet, whistling O Sweet Canada or Old Sam Peabody or Come A-way With Me.

Several tall, thick Leyland cypress trees, dark against the pale orange sky, were lively with the peeps and chips and tseets of birds and with little birds chasing each other and diving into the depths of the trees and disappearing for the night.

The moon, just past full, had not yet risen, but later the night remained clear and the moon shone bright, flooding the trees and grass in pure, white, brilliant light.

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