Wood Thrush

Ferry Beach, Saco, Maine

The afternoon showers drove most everyone off the beach. I walked down to Ferry Beach State Park, and walked under Route 9 through their underpass, and into the woodlands and swamps of the park. There weren’t any cars in the parking lot, but one of the rangers was still there. He saw my binoculars, and we started talking about birds. I asked him if he had heard any Veeries, and he said no, but there were a few Wood Thrushes in the woods.

Wood Thrushes and Veeries can produce more than one note simultaneously — birds have syrinxes, not larynxes like us mammals do, and many birds can produce more than one note at a time — so they can actually sing in harmony with themselves. A Veery sings a song that sounds like it’s descending in a sort of swooping spiral. I’m not good at describing sounds, so I won’t try to describe the sound a Wood Thrush makes, but it’s a series of notes that I find hauntingly beautiful.

A few steps out of the parking lot and into the woods, I heard a Wood Thrush calling. The quality of the sound is such that it can be hard to tell exactly where the sound is coming from. I walked down the path towards the sound of the Wood Thrush, and it seemed as if the bird was slowly moving away from me, flying from tree to tree — but maybe it was two different birds, and one started singing while the other stopped singing as I got close to it.

Eventually, the Wood Thrush stopped singing. It was getting dark. I headed back to the campsite.