Back in the mid 70s, I spent the night at a campground in the redwoods along the coast of California. At dawn, a patchy ground fog had created that scene in a movie—deep in the woods—where some spiritual being—for good or evil—is about to make its appearance. The sound track was a chorus of Varied Thrush announcing their presence from every direction. Though I had seen them in the yard at home many times, I had never heard a Varied Thrush before, so their call, often described as “eerie, haunting and mysterious,” was all those things, and perfectly befitting of the scene. The birds themselves were illusive and it took a lengthy effort to determine what the source of that peculiar sound was. Since then, I have heard them individually on many occasions, but the multitude in the misty woods left a lasting impression.
Having this photo selected as a semifinalist in 2016 Audubon Photo Contest forced me to give it some in depth analysis, which, of course, as you might expect here at poetphoto, inspired poetry.
The Varied Thrush cheers the dawn
But then in case the day should prove him wrong
He sings a much more plaintiff song
Then with that base covered
He goes back and sings the other
So, is it the edge of winter
Or the cusp of spring?
Is it yin, is it yang or in between ?
Has it always been so
Or has it not?
Are we just a reflection the gods forgot?
Each morning’s mirror appears ambiguous
Can what I see and me
Actually be contiguous?
Before my brain has turned to mush
I think I’ll ask the Swainson’s Thrush
If you have never heard a Varied Thrush, follow this link to Audubon’s Varied Thrush page, scroll down to the bottom right and listen to the recordings. If you have never heard the glorious song of the Swainson’s Thrush, more’s the pity. Get out and take a spring hike in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. In the meantime, follow this link to Audubon’s Swainson’s Thrush page, scroll to the bottom right and listen to the recordings.