WOOD THRUSH, Song Thrush, Wood Robin, Bell Bird – Birds for Kids

Much more shy and reserved than the social, democratic robin is his cousin the wood thrush, whom, perhaps, you more frequently hear than see.

Not that he is a recluse, like the hermit thrush, who hides his nest and lifts up his heavenly voice in deep, cool, forest solitudes; nor is he even so shy as Wilson’s thrush, who prefers to live in low, wet, densely overgrown Northern woods.
The wood thrush, as his name implies, certainly likes the woodland, but very often he chooses to stay close to our country and suburban homes or within city parks with a more than half-hearted determination to be friendly.

Hylocichla mustelina (cropped).jpg
Hylocichla mustelina (cropped)” by Hylocichla mustelina.jpg: Steve Maslowski, US Fish and Wildlife Service derivative work: Papa November (talk) – Derivative work of Hylocichla_mustelina.jpg (original from US Fish and Wildlife Service, Item ID WO-4548-17). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

He is about two inches shorter than the robin. Above, his feathers are a rich cinnamon brown, brightest on his head and shoulders and shading into olive brown on his tail. His white throat and breast and sides are heavily marked with heart-shaped marks of very dark brown. He has a white eye ring.

“Here am I” come his three clear, bell-like notes of self-introduction. The quality of his music is delicious, rich, penetrative, pure and vibrating like notes struck upon a harp. If you don’t already know this most neighbourly of the thrushes—as he is also the largest and brightest and most heavily spotted of them all—you will presently become acquainted with one of the finest songsters in America. Wait until evening when he sings at his best. Nolee-a-e-o-lee-nolee-aeolee-lee! peals his song from the trees. Love alone inspires his finest strains; but even in July, when bird music is quite inferior to that of May and June, he is still in good voice. A song so exquisite proves that the thrush comes near to being a bird angel, very high in the scale of development, and far, far beyond such low creatures as ducks and chickens.


Notice the family resemblance between them and the baby robins and bluebirds.

Pit-pit-pit you may hear sharply, excitedly jerked out of some bird’s throat, and you wonder if a note so disagreeable can really come from the wonderful songster on the branch above your head. By sharply striking two small stones {14} together you can closely imitate this alarm call. Whom can he be scolding so severely? It is yourself, of course, for without knowing it you have come nearer to his low nest in the beech tree than he thinks quite safe. While sitting, the mother bird is, however, quite tame. A photographer I know placed his camera within four feet of a nest, changed the plates, and clicked the shutter three times for as many pictures without disturbing the gentle sitter who merely winked her eye at each chick.

Wood thrushes seem to delight in weaving bits of paper or rags into their deep cradles which otherwise resemble the robins.’ A nest in the shrubbery near a bird-lover’s home in New Jersey had many bits of newspaper attached to its outer walls, but the most conspicuous strip in front advertised in large letters “A House to be Let or Sold.” The original builders happily took the next lease, and another lot of nervous, fidgety baby tenants came out of four light greenish-blue eggs; but, as usual, they moved away to the woods, after ten days, to join the choir invisible.

Birds Every Child Should Know by Neltje  Blanchan
Author of “Bird Neighbours,” “Birds that Hunt and Are Hunted,”
“Nature’s Garden,” and “How to Attract the Birds.”
1907 by Doubleday, Page & Company