Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dreaming of Thrushes

Have you ever heard a sound in your dream and then woke up to discover that the sounds is actually in real life? This happened to me this morning. I can't remember what I was doing in my dream (I usually can't), but I was definitely hearing the song of one of the Catharus thrushes (Gray-cheeked, Bicknell's, Swainson's, Hermit, Veery). I know Veery and Hermit well, but I always confuse the other three. Sure enough, my eyes popped open and I was still hearing the sound! It took me a few moments to realize that I was awake. I jumped out of bed and ripped open our sliding glass door. Sure enough, there was a thrush singing right on the other side of our fence. I was thinking "Swainson's", so I popped open the laptop and verified my thoughts. Sure enough, a Swainson's Thrush was singing in our yard. I've only heard this species once before and it is surely one of the most beautiful songs in North America. It's been my experience that Swainson's, Gray-cheeked, Bicknell's, and Hermit thrushes seldom sing in migration. I hear Veery often singing, but they breed in NJ. Hermits breed in NJ too, but I've never heard them singing off breeding territory. Does anyone have any info on this? I found some allusions to this online, but no distinct scientific info. I did get a brief view of the Swainson's when he perched on our fence. He then took off and was never seen or heard again. Interestingly, I had a Swainson's Thrush last year around this same time perched on the same fence.

Ooh... a Blackpoll just sang outside!

7 comments:

John said...

I have heard Swainson's sing in migration on many occasions. I am not sure if I have heard Gray-cheeked or Bicknell's sing off territory. Hermit I have heard sing, but rarely.

Corey said...

Just got back from my parents' house where I enjoyed watching a pair of Wood Thrushes foraging in their backyard (and listening to them sing from the woods as well).
I don't think I've heard a thrush sing off of breeding territory, not even last week when another birder and I played a tape of a Swainson's to remind us of what one sounded like when we spotted a migrating one foraging (the bird completely ignored the tape!).

Patrick Belardo said...

Hmm... you'd expect them to sing as they get closer to their nesting territory. So, you would expect them to sing more by Corey than by John. We need some more people to weigh in on this. Incidentally, he was there singing again this morning.

wyldthang said...

Hi! I'm in Oregon(coast range) and the Swainson's Thrush will be arriving here soon. They nest in the forest here, and I sit outside every evening listening to them sing for a few months. The song of the Swainson's Thrush is one of those things that is so luscious, extravagant, and succulent for the ears and the brain in between.

Patrick Belardo said...

Wyldthang,

That is an excellent and accurate description of their song!

dguzman said...

Sweet! Wish I had some scientific or even empirical evidence for you, but I got nothin'. I've only ever seen and heard a wood thrush in the field. Beautiful.

Patrick Belardo said...

I still remember my first experience hearing a Wood Thrush. I thought it was the most amazing song I'd ever heard. I had one as a yard bird at my parents' house. Still waiting for one at my place!