Monday, March 25, 2013

A Cheery Veery at Magee Marsh...

I found this beautiful Veery Thrush at Magee Marsh last May during the Biggest Week in American Birding festival. I was walking the boardwalk near dusk when I saw him moving around in the undergrowth. I've never been able to get a decent shot of a Veery. They skulk around on the ground in the leaf litter, and when they do come up for air, they stay tucked deep in thickets and shrubby areas in the woods. This bird was no different. I didn't even try to photograph him because it was getting dark and he was well concealed. I was just watching him through the binocs, hoping he would sing his beautiful song, when suddenly he hopped up on a branch and stared right at me. I switched out the binocs for the camera and held my breath, hoping the lens would squeeze enough light out of the day to record that face! Such a cheery Veery...

A beautiful Veery Thrush (Catharus fuscescens) along the boardwalk at Magee Marsh
A beautiful Veery (Catharus fuscescens) gives me the eye. It might be the stink eye, but I don't think so. 
He's too sweet for that!

Veery Thrush (Catharus fuscescens)
Veeries love the cool and damp forest floors. They also like water, which makes the Black Swamp at Magee Marsh perfect habitat. I assumed this fellow was migrating through, but Veeries do nest in the northern parts of Ohio, so maybe he was staking out his territory.

I was so happy to see this bird. I don't get to see it that often in the woods around my house. During spring migration, I do get to hear his beautiful song every now and then in the evening along the Little Miami River, but it's rare. 

The Veery's song is beautiful. If you read about it, you'll often see the words "ethereal,"and "flute-like," "airy," and even "magical" or "haunting." The descriptors are intense for a reason--the song will stop you in your tracks, and once you've heard it, you'll never forget it. Click here for a link to Lang Elliott's recording of a Veery's song. I usually only hear it in the evening near dusk, and it always seems a bit haunting to me...

...such a magical-sounding little bird. If you really want to get fanciful, it's not too hard to imagine his song being a fairy call to announce the beginnings of "midnight revels, by a forest side..." (John Milton, Paradise Lost) 

For migration predictions and info on the birds being seen on the boardwalk, click here for Kenn Kaufman's "Crane Creek - Magee Birding" blog (it covers the Lake Erie Shores and islands region of northwest Ohio). Click here for a nice resource on Magee Marsh.

The Biggest Week in American Birding festival starts May 3, 2013 and runs through May 12, 2013.


  1. nice one Kelly! That is a treasure of a sighting and great photos too.
    I love how the eastern woods echo with the wood Thrush songs, and the Veery's most of all.

  2. Wonderful photos of a beautiful bird!

  3. I was fortunate to spot a Veery once but did not have the opportunity to take wonderful photographs such as yours. They truly are beautiful birds with a lovely song. Terrific post, Kelly!

  4. Nice pics, Kelly! I love the Veery's haunting song. I always thought there must be more than one bird before I found out about the double larynx (?)