Talkin' Outdoors


When my little pal, Jody, lost his life to a collision with a Buick years ago, I grieved. Jody was a sweet faithful pup and my girls and I shed tears when we placed his lifeless body in the ground beneath a big oak in the woods where he loved to roam.


Then there was Bambi. A tiny little thing, she brought joy to our family for years. Age and disease became her adversary and we had to make the painfully sad decision to let her go.


Trixie came into our family almost like a Divine appointment. My wife found her wandering among traffic, rescued her and brought her home. Fur matted and dirty, it was only after a good bath and trip to the vet confirmed she was in fact a poodle. She lived with us until because of reversible health issues, she, too, had to be let go.


All you have to do is read posts from friends on social media to realize you’re not the only one to grieve at having to tell a beloved pet goodbye. Hardly a week goes by that someone is sharing pain about the loss of a pup or kitty.


Kay and I are undergoing a bit of a funk over our recent loss. No, we still have our 14-year-old Rufus and we know the day is not too far off when we’ll have to make the same decision we had to make with Bambi and Trixie. We’re saddened by the loss of a particular song bird, our wood thrush.


One of the first signs of spring-type weather to our yard and woods is a bird song that, according to the Audubon Field Guide…”it’s flutelike songs add music to summer mornings.”


Once the weather began warming, we began hearing the early morning and late afternoon “ee-oh-lay” notes coming from the golden throat of a wood thrush.


One of the fun things I like to do in the outdoors is pack along my camera when I’m on an outing and try to capture images of wildlife, especially birds. For the past several years since we identified the song of our wood thrush, I have tried to get a photo of secretive troubadour without success.


Cornell Lab gives hints as to exactly why I hear but never get to see the bird…”This reclusive bird’s cinnamon brown underparts and good camouflage as it scrabbles for leaf litter invertebrates deep in the forest, though it pops upright frequently to peer about, revealing a boldly spotted white breast.”


I had never gotten to actually see a wood thrush until one afternoon last week. Of the scores of times we’ve heard his song, he has never ventured closer than the woods behind our house and was never ever sitting and singing from a tree in our yard. He was a hidden songster.


Last week, I spotted something lying on the ground outside our window. The cinnamon feathers and the spotted white breast let me know that at last, I had seen a wood thrush. What saddened my wife and me is realizing that the little bird had finally come to our yard to serenade us when it decided to fly through what it thought was an opening to the woods on the other side of our house. However, that “opening” was a window and the impact stilled the golden song of our little friend.


We’re a week past the death of the wood thrush and except for the song of cardinals and raspy chatter of blue jays, the bird song we love to hear is no more, until this morning. As I sit at my keyboard tapping out this story a familiar “ee-oh-lay” reached my ears and I tilt my head to listen. Sure enough, another has moved into the woods behind our house, taking the place of the one we lost. How special is that?