Author: Barbara Driscoll
Each winter I look forward to the return of the hermit thrush. It usually appears beneath the suet feeder, quietly walking down the path to look up at the feeder, hoping for some suet to fall.
The thrush stays around the edges of the other birds, often bullied and forced out. Sally Heiney, from the North Carolina Botanical Garden, and I exchange stories about our thrushes. She has made a special suet feeder for her thrush and shoos away the other birds so it can feed. Each day I break off suet and spread it on the ground, so the hermit will swoop in and get some. Mary Sonis mentioned in her New Hope Audubon talk this week a poem by Walt Whitman, When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d, which is an elegy for Abraham Lincoln and in which Whitman speaks of the hermit thrush:
…Solitary the thrush,
The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
Sings by himself a song.
Song of the bleeding throat,
Death’s outlet song of life, (for well dear brother I know,
If thou wast not granted to sing thou would’st surely die.) …
Some of the other winter visitors, I look forward to seeing are the brown creeper and ruby-crowned kinglet.
The creeper visits our suet feeder each morning, hopping up the side of the tree. The kinglet flickers in quickly and snatches some suet and then visits the pond for water, always staying in the shrubs and then quickly flying away. There are other winter bird visitors, but these are some of my favorites, which faithfully return to our yard each year.