By Donna L. Cole
This is a story of a bird – a migratory bird. And for that matter, a teenage girl too. Because, you know, teenage girls are so into – birds. No, they’re not, or if they are, they’ll never admit it, or at least mine won’t, so follow along with me on how this story came to be.
It was a beautiful May afternoon last year. I heard a loud thump – the kind of thump I despise hearing. I knew immediately what it was – no doubt about it. I started checking all of the windows to figure out which one it was. And on the last window checked, I looked down at the ground. Despair. Not one, but two birds struck at the same time. They must have been chasing one another – different species. One was dead, the other completely stunned. Because my house is in a heavily wooded area and I do have barred owls, I did not want to take a chance on the owls or any other raptor, fox or whatever taking this stunned bird. I gently moved it behind a bush and checked on it over the next hour – it wasn’t moving, but was alert. I also called a friend – the one I always call for help identifying birds (thank you, Dan Haas – a friend to many birds and birders), because I’d never seen this type of bird before. Dan not only told me what it was – a wood thrush, but for me to do everything I can to keep it alive, as it’s a species in decline, due to loss of habitat (woods). Great – that’s exactly what I wanted to hear when getting dressed to go out to an event I couldn’t get out of. I knew the bird would be ok where it was and I told my teenage daughter I’d be home in a couple of hours. Then I left.
About an hour into the party, my daughter calls and tells me she’s bringing the bird inside. Um, what?????? I have two, big dogs that despite them not ever used for it, are actually hunting dogs, driven by — catching prey. Like, for instance, birds. No, the bird can’t come inside. She then explained it’s getting really dark out and it looks like a storm. I came home, in the pouring rain, to find the bird, in a box, on her bed, with dogs locked out of her room. The bird and my daughter slept in the same room that night. Next morning, we took the box outside, opened it up and off went the wood thrush, flying as if it had never hit a window. My daughter’s actions likely saved this bird’s life.
The wood thrush is gorgeous –a beautiful bird with an equally beautiful call. According to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “Wood Thrushes cross the Gulf of Mexico in a single night’s flight. They spend the fall and winter in Central America. They return north in spring 2 to 6 times faster on a route that’s generally somewhat farther west. Males arrive on breeding grounds several days before females.”
Where can you see them? This is a bird that likes the woods and deep forests. Listen for them. Quiet Waters, London Town and Truxtun all have suitable habitat.
Suggested reading – https://www.audubon.org/magazine/september-october-2015/wood-thrushes-connect-bird-lovers
What can you do to help the wood thrush? Keep the trees – don’t cut them down, plant new ones, protect wooded areas – your own and others. Also, for what it’s worth and education is worth a lot, a few years prior to this wood thrush incident, my daughter had learned to handle birds at school, where there’s an entire curriculum for fourth graders specifically geared at educating them about the birds of this area. That education, I’m fairly certain, helped create a conservationist, albeit a teenage one who would never admit to it.
Below: two images of wood thrush, by Donna L. Cole