Birding by ear

You can watch birds with your ears!

house wren, woodthrush and veery

Sweet Sounds in Little Brown Coats

You can watch birds with your ears      That’s right, their songs identify them. Here in the Northern Woodlands you are likely to hear three of the prettiest singers. The first is the friendly House Wren, Troglodytes aedon. It’s laughing song cheers up the gloomiest morning. You are apt to see the little creature too. It is adapted to living near people and often nests in an outdoor shelf or a bird house. You never get too good a look at it because it flits around except when it is letting other wrens know its territory by perching on a branch and letting loose with its bubbling song. Just so you don’t confuse it with, say a Grackle, look for a 5 inch long brown bird who likes to cock his tail.

As quick as you can say house wren you can say Wood Thrush. Hylocichla mustelina or the wood Thrush is the most common of the brown thrushes. Go to a wet woodland in the morning or at dusk and listen to bird songs. If you hear clear flute like sounds that make you think of a majestic water fountain you may be listening to a Wood Thrush. If the wet woodland has both pines and hardwoods the thrush may be the rarer Hermit Thrush, Catharus guttatus.  Wood Thrush has a rusty top to his brown coat and hermit thrush a rusty bottom. Both have rusty spots on their white chests. Wood Thrush is 8 “ and Hermit Thrush 7”.

The third bird to listen for is also a member of the Thrushes. He is the Veery , Catharus fuscescens. Some people think his is the most beautiful song of all. His song is utterly distinctive. It has a whirring sound to it and makes you think of a rapidly played harp . Coat color is brown with few brown spots on his white chest. Size is 7 inches.

When you hear these beautiful sounds and think brown you will be seeing with your ears. I hope you get to hear some brown singing in your near future.

Contributed by Barbara Hannay-Bergman