Birds Vol 1 #5 – The Wood Thrush

Wood Thrush for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Wood Thrush for Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

Vol 1. May, 1897 No. 5



“With what a clear
And ravishing sweetness sang the plaintive Thrush;
I love to hear his delicate rich voice,
Chanting through all the gloomy day, when loud
Amid the trees is dropping the big rain,
And gray mists wrap the hill; foraye the sweeter
His song is when the day is sad and dark.”


O many common names has the Wood Thrush that he would seem to be quite well known to every one. Some call him the Bell Thrush, others Bell Bird, others again Wood Robin, and the French Canadians, who love his delicious song, Greve des Bois and Merle Taune. In spite of all this, however, and although a common species throughout the temperate portions of eastern North America, the Wood Thrush can hardly be said to be a well-known bird in the same sense as the Robin, the Catbird, or other more familiar species; “but to every inhabitant of rural districts his song, at least, is known, since it is of such a character that no one with the slightest appreciation of harmony can fail to be impressed by it.”

Some writers maintain that the Wood Thrush has a song of a richer and more melodious tone than that of any other American bird; and that, did it possess continuity, would be incomparable.

Damp woodlands and shaded dells are favorite haunts of this Thrush, but on some occasions he will take up his residence in parks within large cities. He is not a shy bird, yet it is not often that he ventures far from the wild wood of his preference.

The nest is commonly built upon a horizontal branch of a low tree, from six to ten—rarely much more—feet from the ground. The eggs are from three to five in number, of a uniform greenish color; thus, like the nest, resembling those of the Robin, except that they are smaller.

In spite of the fact that his name indicates his preference for the woods, we have seen this Thrush, in parks and gardens, his brown back and spotted breast making him unmistakable as he hops over the grass for a few yards, and pauses to detect the movement of a worm, seizing it vigorously a moment after.

He eats ripening fruits, especially strawberries and gooseberries, but no bird can or does destroy so many snails, and he is much less an enemy than a friend of the gardener. It would be well if our park commissioners would plant an occasional fruit tree—cherry, apple, and the like—in the public parks, protecting them from the ravages of every one except the birds, for whose sole benefit they should be set aside. The trees would also serve a double purpose of ornament and use, and the youth who grow up in the city, and rarely ever see an orchard, would become familiar with the appearance of fruit trees. The birds would annually increase in numbers, as they would not only be attracted to the parks thereby, but they would build their nests and rear their young under far more favorable conditions than now exist. The criticism that birds are too largely destroyed by hunters should be supplemented by the complaint that they are also allowed to perish for want of food, especially in seasons of unusual scarcity or severity. Food should be scattered through the parks at proper times, nesting boxes provided—not a few, but many—and then

The happy mother of every brood
Will twitter notes of gratitude.


The Bird of Solitude.

Of all the Thrushes this one is probably the most beautiful. I think the picture shows it. Look at his mottled neck and breast. Notice his large bright eye. Those who have studied birds think he is the most intelligent of them all.

He is the largest of the Thrushes and has more color in his plumage. All who have heard him agree that he is one of the sweetest singers among birds.

Unlike the Robin, Catbird, or Brown Thrush, he enjoys being heard and not seen.

His sweetest song may be heard in the cool of the morning or evening. It is then that his rich notes, sounding like a flute, are heard from the deep wood. The weather does not affect his song. Rain or shine, wet or dry, he sings, and sings, and sings.

During the light of day the Wood Thrush likes to stay in the cool shade of the woods.

Along toward evening, after sunset, when other birds are settling themselves for the night, out of the wood you will hear his evening song.

It begins with a strain that sounds like, “Come with me,” and by the time he finishes you are in love with his song.

The Wood Thrush is very quiet in his habits. So different from the noisy, restless Catbird.

The only time that he is noisy is when his young are in danger. Then he is as active as any of them.

A Wood Thrush’s nest is very much like a Robin’s. It is made of leaves, rootlets and fine twigs woven together with an inner wall of mud, and lined with fine rootlets.

The eggs, three to five, are much like the Robin’s.

Compare the picture of the Wood Thrush with that of the Robin or Brown Thrush and see which you think is the prettiest.

Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) by Daves BirdingPix

Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) by Daves BirdingPix

Lee’s Addition:

Thrushes are a Bird of the Bible, depending on which translation you use. See:

Bible Birds – Thrushes

Even the stork in the sky Knows her seasons; And the turtledove and the swift and the thrush Observe the time of their migration; But My people do not know The ordinance of the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:7 NASB)

Since they mentioned the song so much, here is a sample of its song from Xeno-canto – Wood Thrush song by Chris Parrish]

The Wood Thrush has been reported to have one of the most beautiful songs of North American birds. American naturalist Henry David Thoreau wrote:

Whenever a man hears it he is young, and Nature is in her spring; wherever he hears it, it is a new world and a free country, and the gates of Heaven are not shut against him.

While the female is not known to sing, the male has a unique song that has three parts. The first subsong component is often inaudible unless the listener is close, and consists of two to six short, low-pitched notes such as bup, bup, bup. The middle part is a loud phrase often written ee-oh-lay, and the third part is a ventriloquial, trill-like phrase of non-harmonic pairs of notes given rapidly and simultaneously.

The male is able to sing two notes at once, which gives its song an ethereal, flute-like quality. Each individual bird has its own repertoire based on combinations of variations of the three parts. Songs are often repeated in order. The bup, bup, bup phrase is also sometimes used as a call, which is louder and at a greater frequency when the bird is agitated. The Wood Thrush also use a tut, tut to signal agitation. The nocturnal flight call is an emphatic buzzing heeh.

Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) ©WikiC

Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) ©WikiC

The Wood Thrush, Hylocichla mustelina, is a North American passerine bird. It is closely related to other thrushes such as the American Robin and is widely distributed across North America, wintering in Central America and southern Mexico. The Wood Thrush is the official bird of the District of Columbia.

The adult Wood Thrush is 19–21 cm (7½-8¼ in) long, and weighs 40-50 g, with a wingspan of 30–40 cm (12–16 in). The longest known lifespan for a Wood Thrush in the wild is 8 years, 11 months. The crown, nape, and upper back are cinnamon-brown, while the back wings, and tail are a slightly duller brown. The breast and belly are white with large dark brown spots on the breast, sides, and flanks. It has white eye rings and pink legs. Other brownish thrushes have finer spotting on the breast. The juvenile looks similar to adults, but has additional spots on the back, neck, and wing coverts. The male and female are similar in size and plumage.

Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) ©WikiC

Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) ©WikiC

The Wood Thrush is a member of the Turdidae – Thrush family. There are 185 species, including Rufous Thrushes, Whistling Thrushes, Ground Thrushes, our Bluebirds, Solitaires, Nightingale-Thrushes, Cochoas, Shortwings, and our American Robin.

Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 May, 1897 No 5 - Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 May, 1897 No 5 – Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction

The above article is the first article in the monthly serial that was started in January 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited


(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article –The American Catbird

Previous Article –The Night Hawk

ABC’s Of The Gospel


Wood Thrush – Wikipedia

Wood Thrush – All About Birds

Thrush – Wikipedia

Turdidae – Thrush family



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