Morning song

Ferry Beach, Saco, Maine

Sometime after first light this morning, I came partially awake when a Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) started singing not far from the campground: three or four or five flute-like notes followed by a sort of trill. Birds don’t have larynxes; instead they have syrinxes, which in some species can produce more than one note at a time. Wood Thrushes have an amazingly rich and complex song; the first flute-like notes change in pitch and duration and sometimes seem to include more than one note, and the final trill might incorporate a buzzy sound and flute-like tones and more. The basic structure of the song is always the same, but each iteration of the song is slightly different; I can listen to a Wood Thrush without boredom for a very long time.

I drifted off to sleep, but while sleeping kept listening to the song, which went on and on and on. I had a dream in which I was listening to a Wood Thrush. I kept coming partly awake and marveling at the song, and then telling myself that I had to get some sleep. At last I fell sound asleep, and the alarm awakened me right at 7:00. The Wood Thrush was still singing. I listened as I pulled on my socks and shoes. I kept listening as I walked over to the wash house. I took a quick shower, walked back to my tent, listening to the Wood Thrush, trying to figure out where it was. I thought I might walk over and try to see it. But by the time I got back to my tent, at about 7:15, it stopped singing.