What bird got you into birding?
I will bet it was not a rare species or even a particularly beautiful one. I’ll wager it was one you saw in your back yard for years until one day, something happened, and it slipped into your heart. You took notice. Then another and another. There is always one bird that suddenly darts past our dull humanity and makes us realize we are not alone in this universe of creation. For me, it was the Veery.
Not a bird of brilliance like a Scarlet Tanager, Veerys have evolved to blend in with the warm browns of the woods they live in. They tend to be reddish above, with almost ghostlike spots on their breasts. A member of the family of Thrushes, along with Robins, Wood and Hermit Thrushes, it is the least spotted.
It may be plain, but its song will take the top of your head off. According to David Sibley in The Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior, “Underlying all avian vocal activity is the syrinx, an organ unique to birds…birds are capable of producing two separate sounds at once….”
A Veery’s song is the song of creation itself; spiraling, ethereal, full of the rich promise of life. It is the bird whose mysterious and other-worldly dueting vocalization first attracted me to learning more about birds, which has in turn led to some of my most amazing life experiences.
During my equestrienne days, horse owners would ask me to exercise their horses when I finished with my barn chores, so I spent many spring and summer mornings in the big ring next to the woods riding circles and practicing transitions from the walk to the trot to the canter and back down again. They were sweet, magical mornings spent alone on the back of a good horse.
What is that sound? I would ask the horse. Who can sing like that? It was almost painful in its beauty and I would often stop and walk for awhile just to let it bless our bones. What a rose is to your nose, so a Veery’s song is to your ears. God’s sweet whisper.
I am not yet savvy enough to give you an icon here for the song, but if you click here, it will take you to the site where you can listen. Try it!