Thoreau wrote of our Wood Thrush, “Whenever a man hears it he is young, and Nature is in her spring; wherever he hears it, it is a new world and a free country, and the gates of heaven are not shut against him.”
Now please excuse me while I go cry tears of beauty.
The Wood Thrush is the “state” (city?) bird of DC. I had been told this a number of times before I remembered. Their voice box is split in two, allowing them to sing two notes simultaneously and harmonize with themselves. Please listen on Cornell’s website (All About Birds) which is also the source of my photo, above. I only really put all this together when I listened to the cd Birding by Ear and that very same evening heard these amazing vocalizations along Sligo Creek Trail! It was a pure slice of joy, especially since this bird’s numbers have been going down quite a lot. Please let that be a suggestion that the most remarkable things in nature cannot be found on Planet Earth dvds. They can be found, if one is attentive, in our own backyard.
It is amazing to think that the birds that sang to Thoreau are the great great great great great greatest grandparents of the birds that sing here now on warm evenings when the sun is staying out so late. It is amazing to think that each of those generations flew to Central America for the winters, and came back here to renew itself in the springs. It is amazing to think that in our lifetime they might cease to make their journey one way, or the other, and that a spring could come to us not silent, but sorely lacking in harmony.