A Foggy Brown Thrasher & Other Fog Birds

Imagine this posting begins with a digital photo. It is a picture of fog freezing on tall sycamores, on scruffy box elders beside a boat landing in a city park. Pretend that you hear something slapping its wings on river water: four small ducks edging just above the muddy river surface, then vanishing because the fog is so thick.

I don't have a photo, and even if I had a camera, I think the scene would be a mere blur no matter how much I played with the image on photo shop. But I did hear the water scurry sound. And the ducks came back and wanted to hug against the shore. I wanted them to be Blue-winged Teal. They were not. They were three female Hooded Mergansers, close enough that I could see their rusty punk style head plumage. The other duck was a male Wood Duck.

I saw almost no other birds except a strange crowded flock of tree swallows huddled on an electric wire, and these would vanish and reappear frequently even though they didn't fly anywhere...the fog was swirling about them, sort of owning them.

But the real reason I went to Riverview Park this morning...to keep an annual appointment. I went there just before daylight to listen for a brown thrasher. One has always shown up out of nowhere around the 25th to 28th of March, right here some place in a patch of honeysuckle and berry brambles.

I wasn't disappointed. One brown thrasher cranked right up, first sound was more like a cough melting into a growl, and all of it as if wrenched through ice and cloud. Then the songs came, three full minutes nonstop. They were doublets of mimicry, one rendition a towhee's chewink call, another the pitter pitter of a titmouse. And right with the thrasher song at that point a titmouse sang several times. Then the thrasher sang a sort of squished up version of the song of a white-eyed vireo.

Imagine the brown thrasher there, singing, mostly hidden, wrapped in fog. The brambles are just starting to open their leaf buds. The leaf buds are coated in ice. I wish I had a picture for you. Hope you have one anyway.