As the first rays of the sun broke through the lingering darkness of night, morning did not find me on the beach today. Salmon season ended on September 30th. My freezer is adequately filled for the year and my early mornings now have other pursuits. This October morning, as often happens, my constant companion, Risa, joined me for a walk in the morning stillness. As is typical for most dogs, her sense of smell, hearing, and sight are attuned to the natural world far better than mine.

Then we heard it! Joining the other birds in the dawn chorus was the ethereal flute-like call of a Varied Thrush with each note of its song beginning on a different pitch (hence its name varied). It had been several months since I had enjoyed this unique voice in the early morning chorus. You see, Varied Thrush only spend the fall, winter, and early spring months at low elevation. They undergo a vertical migration into the high country where they breed during the summer. Now it was time for them to enjoy the solitude and warmer weather of the lowlands as the high country is blanketed in snow.

I encourage you to go to Google or your personal web browser and query the browser for the song of a Varied Thrush. It will brighten your day! While you are at it, you might want to listen to another beautiful song in the dawn chorus. Swainson’s Thrush is a cousin to the Varied Thrush and is a common summer resident in the western Washington lowlands. Whereas the Varied Thrush spends summer in the mountains, Swainson’s Thrush spends the winter in the tropics and joins us during the breeding season. It’s rising flute-like song is frequently heard at dusk in our western forests. You will enjoy adding it to your repertoire of bird songs. And be sure to say a prayer of thanks for the beauty of nature’s music.

If you are an early riser, during the fall, winter, and spring, you can catch a glimpse of Varied Thrush as they come out to feed along road edges in wooded areas. You might mistake them for another thrush, the American Robin of about the same size, but the markings of Varied Thrush are distinctive. Fortunately, during the winter you will not have to rise early for this enjoyment as they move to the road edges shortly after the first light of dawn. You might be able to sleep in until 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. and add this delightful opportunity to your morning prayer and devotion time.

Thanks for listening. Direct comments to [email protected]

— Joe Sheldon

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