If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.
That great old expression doesn’t work for thrushes because a lot of birds look like thrushes but aren’t thrushes at all. So you can’t say: If it looks like a thrush, then it probably is a thrush.
Members of the thrush family in New England include wood thrush, hermit thrush, veery, Swainson’s thrush and Bicknell’s thrush. They are medium-sized birds, brown overall and their buff-colored bellies and chests are decorated with brown spots. American robins and Eastern bluebirds are thrushes as well but have their own distinctive appearances.
Thrushes are perhaps best known for their songs. Wood and hermit thrushes have amazing flute-like songs that sound otherworldly and have inspired many a line in poetry and literature.
Usually I post my latest bird column on Sunday and leave it at that. But yesterday (yes May 9) many in New England woke up to a snow-covered ground and then got another dose of the white stuff later in the day. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get up early and head into the woods to try to get photos of warblers and other spring migrants that we typically don’t associate with snow. There was just a covering of snow and the morning sun was melting it quickly so I had to hurry. I ended up with a few shots of an ovenbird and a blue-winged warbler on snowy branches. Strange times, indeed. (I’ll post the ovenbird a bit later today.)
Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there!
(Here’s even more repeat text for context: I’m running out of COVID-19 lockdown themes so from now until things get back to some semblance of normalcy, I will simply post my best photo from the previous day. You could say it fits because of its uncertainty and challenge. I’ll call the series “A Day on Merganser Lake,” even though that’s not the real name of the lake I live near in southwestern Connecticut, it’s just a nod to my favorite duck family.)
The ovenbird’s “teacher, teacher, teacher” song is often the dominant sound in the New England woods during spring and summer. It is a loud and piercing song, but it is often difficult to find the source. The ovenbird is small (it is a warbler after all) and well-camouflaged bird. It resembles a thrush with its overall brownish plumage and spotted chest but it also has an orange crown flanked by two dark streaks. The ovenbird, which is named for the shape of its ground nest, is often found walking along the forest floor. It will sing from the ground or from a perch in the woods making it that much more difficult to find.
Photo by Chris Bosak An Ovenbird stands on a railing in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.
The Ovenbird is an odd little warbler. It looks more like a thrush with its light brown plumage and spotted breast, but it is a warbler — a warbler that prefers to walk along the ground instead of fly among the treetops.
It is perhaps most known for its song — the ubiquitous “teacher-teacher-teacher” that rings out from the woods throughout May and June in New England. But just because their song is loud and proud, that doesn’t mean they are easy to find. They lurk among the leaf-strewn forest floor, blending in with their surroundings.
I’ve been lucky enough to have one (or more?) visit my yard over the last few days. I’ve enjoyed the visit, but know it won’t last long. Soon, perhaps it’s even left already, it will head farther north.
Photo by Chris Bosak An Ovenbird perches on a branch in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.
Photo by Chris Bosak An Ovenbird stands on a log in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.