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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.


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Oh lordy, this happened to us when we were in Arkansas in March of last year. For two hours every day for a week, a male cardinal attacked his reflection in our window, alternating between our rig and the one next to us. RV windows are tinted so we couldn't even dim the mirror effect. Our older cats figured out that they couldn't reach him pretty quick but the youngest never did. Between her body-slamming into the window from the inside and him hitting it with beak and claws from the outside I was sure that she was going to leap out in a shower of glass one morning. She'd try for him until he stopped banging on the window and then sleep the sleep of the justly exhausted the rest of the day.

Pics or it didn't happen: http://www.flickr.com/photos/catlinye_maker/8251872693/

The cardinal only noticed the cats once, and that was when Mister Guy, our older tom, got frustrated and hissed at him, treating him to an intimate view of a gaping maw full of flashing fangs. We had peace the rest of the day that day.

Edited at 2012-12-07 05:01 pm (UTC)

That's a gorgeous shot! The redness of the cardinal, especially :P

Thanks! I got some GREAT pics of the cardinal while he was on the bush glaring at the window. I was amazed at how well they turned out from my little point-and-shoot camera, from inside the rig.

Once, when I went back home to visit my mother, she had an errand to run at the church she worked at, so I came along for the ride. I decided to wait outside in the car while she ran in to do the quick thing, and I was startled when a male cardinal landed on the hood of the car, and sat there looking at me inside. He then decided that I wasn't a threat, and moved to the passenger-side mirror, giving me a great view as he looked for, found, and attacked the Mirror Twin with much fluttering, furious little vocalisations, and lots of claw-scrabbling, with frequent breaks to catch his breath sitting on top of the mirror.

When she came back out, my mother told me that he lived somewhere in the church yard, and had claimed her car as his own, and he would come over to fight the Mirror Twin several times a day when she was parked there. He preferred the passenger-side mirror to the driver-side, but would switch it up occasionally.

I remember really wishing I had a camera with me. It was that close, and that cool, and he didn't give a rat's ass that I was sitting there. He didn't leave until Mom came back, got in, and started the car.

I had a cardinal doing that when I was a kid! At dawn. At the bedroom windows. PECK PECK PECK PECK. He got his mate to help, and even brought a juvenile male with him at one point, to KILL THE EVIL MIRRORBIRD!

*admires the pic*

These days, we occasionally get a chickadee or nuthatch trying to bonk itself against the glass. Mostly they're trying to land -- we have cross-hatches -- so they sort of bounce and fly away again, but a couple of winter-plumage goldfinches managed to stun themselves. One had his head at such an angle for about 5 minutes, while the other landed on his back and sort of stayed there, blinking.

The cats, naturally, WERE MOST DESIROUS OF THE STUNNED BIRDIES. But we did not let them out.

That is a STUNNING picture. Well done!

Oh gosh, beautiful photo!

Now I'm getting fond flashbacks to my childhood in rural Pennsylvania, where our summers were punctuated by the dulcet sound of Bongo the Cardinal assaulting the sliding glass door to kill the Evil Anti-Bongo, followed a few years later by Son of Bongo carrying on the fine family tradition.

ETA: I've had this userpic forever, and it just occurred to me that it rather resembles an UrsulaV painting.

I'd like to say my cat was kowtowing to the root vegetables, but in fact I used catnip as a lure.

Edited at 2012-12-08 07:56 am (UTC)

Re userpic: I thought, in the spirit of UrsulaV paintings, that your cat had slain the root vegetables and brought them to you as trophies.

Considering her hunting instincts, that would be a reasonable assumption. At my last apartment, she used to give the Mighty Hunter (rowr) cry, stalk in from the patio with the Tail of Triumph, and deposit...

... a pear leaf at my feet, looking at me expectantly for praise.

They were about the right size and color for a mouse, and gave me rather a turn.

However, in this case, I was simply trying to photograph the first fruits of my puny veggie garden, and I thought a cat would enhance the image.

Re: That fits

Seriously, my 20 pound Maine Coon absolutely will stalk and hunt weeds. He puts more gusto into attempting to kill a thistle than he does in attempting to catch the squirrels that he so thoroughly attempts to convince us are absolutely not making him mad with all those chirping noises.. He's also a narc (he actively hates catnip and won't go within 10 feet of anything containing it).
I love the absurdity of cats.

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