Our eastern forest flautist. I still have too much nine year old boy in me not to use flautist instead of flutist. Those of you that smiled when you read flautist know what I mean.
Flautist, or flutist if you are more mature, is a perfect description of a singing Wood Thrush. As all songbirds do, Wood Thrushes have a Y-shaped voice box, a syrinx. Different than other songbirds, a male actually can sing pairs of notes simultaneously. These notes harmonize and blend to produce ringing, ethereal tones that reminds us of a flute. To add to our listening delight, each bird can sing unique versions of each song part. One male can easily sing over 50 distinct songs.
This quality and quantity of repertoire has made Wood Thrushes birds of literature. Here’s what Henry David Thoreau wrote about an encounter with a Wood Thrush: “This is the only bird whose note affects me like music. It lifts and exhilarates me. It is inspiring. It changes all hours to an eternal morning.”
More recently: “We want the wild soul and a shadow-dwelling wood thrush heaps it on us in self-harmonizing sonata” Drew Lanham, https://onbeing.org/poetry/love-for-a-song/ . If you like to read poetry, ecology white-papers, conservation treatises, practical tips on being outdoors, readable bird studies, environmental justice advocacy and birding community inclusion opinion pieces, or any combination, and you are not familiar with Dr. Drew Lanham, look him up. Your reading list will expand.
Wood Thrushes have become, unfortunately, a symbol for something not as inspiring as music and literature. They have become a poster-bird for the decline of birds over the last four decades.
Wood Thrushes are a Partners in Flight Species of Continental Concern: https://partnersinflight.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/SPECIES-OF-CONT-CONCERN-from-pif-continental-plan-final-spread-2.pdf
Declining 60% since 1966, Wood Thrush is a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species, and rates a 14 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. It is listed as a Tri-National Concern species and is on the 2016 State of North America’s Birds’ Watch List.
It’s like taking a knee to a sensitive body part, to think that the song of a Wood Thrush may go silent. That’s why Wood Thrushes are high on conservation and advocacy groups’ watchlists and action plans: https://gis.audubon.org/AtlantaAudubon/woodthrush/
I hope you read this link and noted that there are actions we can take in our own backyards.