Wood Thrush

If the rich fluty yodeling of a Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) hadn’t alerted me, I probably wouldn’t have noticed their nest.You can just see the top of the bird’s head here, rusty orange, with white eye-ring.And the heavy spotting on the breast.

Tis the season. Clutch size for this species is 3-4. The eggs are blue/bluish, slightly paler than the classic Robin’s egg blue. Incubation is done by the female and lasts 13 days. The species is declining across its range; one factor may be acid rain, which leaches calcium from the soil, resulting in decreases of calcium-rich invertebrate prey needed during breeding. As a side note, this was in the Thain Family Forest in the NYBG, which boasts that it’s the last old growth patch in NYC: the yellow signs of a recent pesticide application were still up.

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I was recently reading some of Stephen Jay Gould’s essays — from his famous monthly run in Natural History, which have thankfully all been collected — and thought, wow, here is a voice sadly missed. What else I’ve read of him so far, The Mismeasure of Man and Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale ad the Nature of History, are richly rewarding; and now I intend to go deeper. This appreciation by Matthew Lau concurs.

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