Background Switcher (Hidden)

The Blessing of Thrashers

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thrashers on the front stoop are a fine, fine thing. The brown thrasher: such a lovely, big bird. I never see one without thinking how lucky we are to count them as our close neighbors and friends. Where I grew up in Virginia, we had a brown thrasher coming in for bread, raisins, and cold spaghetti, of all things. I loved that bird. Thrashers were extirpated from that neighborhood years ago, but they hung on long enough for me to grow up with them.I like their strong legs and bills, their bold personalities. They're common out here, like eastern towhees and yellow-breasted chats. All three love multiflora rose and honeysuckle tangles, just the kind of vegetation the farmers most despise. Our decrepit "farm" has plenty of wild tangles and gnarly woodland edges. Each year, we have at least three and often four pairs of brown thrashers on our land. One's out by the oilwell, one's in what once was an orchard, one's out by the mailbox, and one's in our yard.
The yard thrashers start off the year being shy and wild. Soon they observe the steady stream of birds coming to the suet dough dish, and decide to try a little for themselves. They're not dumb. This pair began ferrying dough to their younguns about a month ago. I thought we'd never see the fledglings.The parents hauled away prodigious amounts of suet dough, stuffing their gullets and bills to capacity. This seemed to go on forever. But little by little the fledglings started coming around the edges of the yard, waiting for their parents to load 'em up with suet dough. And now they're feeding themselves, sitting in the dish for long periods, picking at crumbs. This is a juvenile on the right, with its parent. They're recognizable by their grayer faces, dark gray (not yellow) eyes, and finer breast streaks. Not to mention their silly, hesitant behavior.
My favorite picture: a baby brown thrasher takes the sun, with that peculiar ecstatic expression. I didn't see the bumblebee buzzing by until I downloaded it. That's one of the things I love about digital photography: it froze the bee in flight. If I were the type to write cute captions, I could probably bowdlerize this cool shot. But I'll let you do that.According to the laws of physics, the bumblebee should not be capable of flight. Perhaps this thrasher is mulling over that tenet. Or perhaps he's thinking, "Look. A bee."


[Back to Top]