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This is a hermit thrush.


Photo by William H. Majoros, Wikimedia Commons

It has been a positive clearing house of thrushes in the yard lately, as we had a late Swainson’s in the front, a flock of robins mooching around the back, and for the last two days, Thrush-Bob the hermit thrush patrolling the deck.

Thrush-Bob showed up and promptly began attacking the windows. This wasn’t suicide-by-window, where they plow right into it thinking it’s sky, this is a kind of fluffing scrabbling up-and-down the glass. (The deck windows are those latticed types made up of a dozen smaller rectangles, so we’ve never yet had a suicide-strike–they see the grid and slow down.)

No, as far as I can tell, Thrush-Bob is pissed at the other thrush in the glass.

I am not entirely sure if mid-December is territorial time for a hermit thrush. I am not even sure if thrushes are territorial! But damned if I can think of another explanation, unless Thrush-Bob is flying at the enemy screaming “STOP COPYING ME!” (And hell, bluebirds go house hunting in January, so it’s not that weird, I guess. Or maybe Thrush-Bob is young and trying to carve out his own new territory.)

Kevin finally turned the lights on inside the house, to try and make the windows less reflective. This slowed Thrush-Bob’s assault. Now he simply bounced from railing to grill to potted plant. He runs along the deck (being a thrush) lurks briefly in the miniature rose, up to the railing, runs the railing for several feet, hops on the grill, launches himself into the air, lands in the spicebush, stares in the windows accusingly, then hops down and runs off again.

For the last two mornings, a row of cats has been glued to the windows, quivering with pent up predatory instinct. Even Ben, who believes that hunting happens to other people—who then give it to him, their lord and master—is not immune to the Saga of the Thrush. Several times he has given me a stern look indicating that I should be out there catching him dinner.

Hermit thrushes, in case you’re curious, are one of those birds that are actually increasing in population. Being bug eaters, pesticides are bad for them, but as the forests regenerate in the East, their numbers keep going up. So that’s a nice thought. They seem like such fragile little creatures that it’s nice to know they’re pretty tough.

So, getting back to my particular thrush.

There are only two solutions, as I see it.

Well, three.

A) Do nothing. Wait for Thrush-Bob to move on to wormier pastures.

B) Get one of those hawk cut-outs to scare him away before he hurts himself. I hate to do this, because the deck has the birdbath where the Carolina chickadees and the titmice come to drink. (Heavier birds just plop into the frog pond.) Thrush-Bob is unbothered by these little guys, it’s only the Other Thrush that arouses his ire. I don’t want to scare off my little garden birds from one of the primary neighborhood water sources! (Seriously, we may be the only thing going that isn’t a horse trough for a mile.)

C) Buy mealworms and leave them out for Thrush-Bob so that he can keep his strength up.

I lean toward A, with perhaps a bit of C. The cats haven’t gotten this much excitement since the time the lizard got in.

On the downside, Thrush-Bob wakes up VERY early, and the sound of him savagely attacking the Other Thrush is enough to wake the beagle, who begins baying hysterically because WE WILL ALL BE MURDERED BY THE TINY BIRD OH GOD THE HUMANITY. So we’ll see if I am still feeling so charitable in a few days.


Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.


And so sad. Poor crazy little thrush.

Unrelated, but I thought you'd find it neat that I have a companion quail now. :D His name is Trevor and he's a Japanese quail. He wandered into our backyard, probably as an escapee from a backyard farmer raising them for meat or eggs. Or possibly he was dumped when he started to crow and they realized he wouldn't lay eggs. Took me damn near an hour to catch him - ended up tossing some bird netting over him and then grabbing him with my hands.

He's my tiny little chicken. He's so funny! The amount of neat noises he makes (just like a chicken) is absurd. If I come in the room and turn on the light he grumbles quite loudly at me. My little angry bird. :) He's about the size of a baseball and his crow sounds like a scifi laser gun.


He is a cutie!

What if the dummy predator only appeared when Bob starts to attack? Surely a good sysop Dungeon Master could arrange this.

Ay one place I lived a while back, I had a similar problem with a young kookaburra. This may not sound like much of a problem, until you realise that the kookaburra is a kingfisher, and 11 - 17 inches long...

And they make a significant amount of noise!

good lord, even a baby one of those is like a large woodpecker over here. That would be almost Hitchcockian.

(On the other hand, my friends once had a pheasant attempt to take a shortcut through their living room via the plate glass window, and It almost succeeded. Now THAT was a mess.)

Edited at 2012-12-08 07:59 am (UTC)

And with a dagger beak! I've seen them in the zoo here. Aside from that wonderful jackass laugh call (which probably isn't so wonderful as often as you'd be hearing it) having that fellow mad at you could hurt a lot.

I have no suggestions, I just think that my day is a little bit better now for having read The Saga of the Thrush-Bob.

So thank you for that.

Wow, cardinals seem to be bad for this! We had one at the state park where I worked who would attack a specific car's driver side mirror. The owner of the car had to start tying grocery bags over the mirror, because the bird was attacking with such ferocity that he left blood all over the mirror.

Heh. My birds, all male cockatiels, have all at some point in their life put on an elaborate song and dance routine for mirrorbird. They tend to be more territorial on a display level though, so, that's usually what mirrors provoke if anything beyond curiosity and mild interest.

Maybe Thrush-Bob is worried about there being competition for a Thrush-Bobbette and will be a little less insecure once he mates? (That, or he'll just start worrying about competition for worms...)

Some thrushes can be territorial. We had a robin named Bonk some years back.

Is it possible to reduce the reflective quality of the glass with a coating or somesuch?

You want a certain amount of reflectivity, so the birds don't think the glass is just empty space.

I imagine altering the surface to make the reflection non-specular would be possible, although you wouldn't want to impair the view from inside.

You know.. 'tis the season.. what about a spritz of that fake frost stuff?

A bird got in to my house once. It lived for about one minute. Jin-cat is a killing machine.