Hermit Thrush in Wet Snow

Our front yard was busy this afternoon with soft, wet snow falling and covering much of the ground for a while. A colorful Pine Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Carolina Wren, a pair of Downy Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmice, Carolina Chickadees, one or two Goldfinches, a Mockingbird and a big Red-bellied Woodpecker went back and forth from the feeders. Several Chipping Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, a pair of Northern Cardinals and one noisy Robin fed on the ground below the feeders and under the shrubs.

Two Brown-headed Nuthatches spent most of their time in the trees above the feeders, not doing their usual loud squeaky-dee calls, but calling back and forth to each other in soft one-syllable bleets.

My favorite bird of the afternoon was a Hermit Thrush that sat on a low branch of an oak, flicking its wings and quickly raising and lowering its tail each time it called a low, throaty tchurp – over and over. Because it perched one way and then another, I had a good view of the smooth olive-brown of its back, the cinnamon color of both the tail and the edges of the wings, and the big, dark, bold spots on its pale breast. Later it dropped to the ground to forage with the sparrows and juncos, though pretty much keeping its distance from the main group and staying watchful.

A couple of Mourning Doves sat in the trees nearby and in the back yard several American Crows cawed loudly for a long time – I finally saw a Red-tailed Hawk leave the top of a pine in the woods and glide away with the Crows in pursuit. Earlier in the afternoon, a Cooper’s Hawk sailed very fast across the road, through a powdery blur of falling snow, and over the treetops low and out of sight.

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