Thoreau Thursdays (45): Expecting Birds to Sing

February 23, 2012

“How can you expect the birds to sing when their groves are cut down?”
— Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Wintering robin on the apple tree outside my window

I like to think of Thoreau the bird-watcher.  His world around Walden’s Pond was filled with the sights and sounds of birds, and many of his writings noted their activity.  He came up with some very imaginative descriptions, for example the barred owl as “winged brother of the cat” or, “The hawk is the aerial brother of the wave . . . ”

I don’t see many bird species in the city of Seattle.  I am at a disadvantage as a bird-watcher because I have significant hearing loss and I can’t hear most bird songs anymore.  But I try to pay attention.  The two most common birds in my life are crows and gulls.

Crow with blue-black feathers at Green Lake

Urban crow

California gull with distinctive dark ring on beak and polka-dot wing tips.

Thoreau was an early ecologist, and he very aptly linked the loss of habitat with the eventual decline of bird populations.  We’d do well to heed his cautionary quote.

4 Responses to “Thoreau Thursdays (45): Expecting Birds to Sing”

  1. garden2day Says:

    I love your bird photos. I find birds fascinating and miss their incredible sounds-between being partially deaf and tinnitus. Birds can teach us so much. Rosemary, do you paint birds?


  2. I needed the birds today 🙂 Thank you!

  3. Renee Says:

    Rosemary, so sorry to hear about your limited hearing. It reminds me to be thankful of what I have. I too am fairly limited to the birds I see, living in Queens New York City. I too saw a Robin which I really never see on my clothesline outside my window a few weeks ago and I was happy for the sighting.


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