At sunset tonight, I stood—as I always do—completely captivated by the season’s first Wood Thrush. I was pretty sure this evening when I went out the door that I would be treated to their elfin song, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Wood Thrushes are just back from winter in Central America, and they always return at the same time. I’ve been making note over the last few years, and they seem always to show up around April 16-19.
As far as I’m concerned, the Wood Thrush is the most beautiful singer in the forest, and celebrating the first one has become almost a holy ritual for me.
Henry David Thoreau thought they were special, too, as you can see in these two journal entries from 1853:
“As I come over the hill I hear the wood thrush singing his evening lay. This is the only bird whose note affects me like music—affects the flow & tenor of my thought—my fancy & imagination. It lifts and exhilarates me. It is inspiring. It is a medicative draught to my soul. It is an elixir to my eyes & a fountain of youth to all my senses. It changes all hours to an eternal morning.” — Henry David Thoreau, Journal entry, June 22, 1853.
“The strains of the aeolian harp & of the wood thrush are the truest & loftiest preachers that I know now left on this earth. I know of no missionaries to us heathen comparable to them.” — Thoreau, Dec. 31, 1853 [Apparently he missed their song during the winter like I do.]
If you’ve heard a Wood Thrush yourself, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, you should look them up online and then get out into a forest and listen. I think you’ll become a celebrant too.
Click here for more about the Wood Thrush at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.