Nearly on the eve of Election 2012, one of the biggest decisions Americans can make, America’s voice flew in my back door. Here’s what happened…
We had an unexpected guest this morning at our b&b in Albuquerque. I had never seen this particular guest previously, that I can remember. It came in via the back door near 10am, making quite a bit of noise in a panic, and then quietly settled in on the windowsill of the loft bedroom on the south side of the house.
I have a bird net from my days of aviaries and Wildlife Rescue, and, (rejoice), I knew exactly where it was. This bird wasn’t injured, and was so docile I could have used my bare hands to catch it. I used the net anyway in case of a panic. They rarely hurt themselves when using a proper bird net.
At first, viewing this visitor from across the room I thought it to be a female House Sparrow or a common House Finch, but much to my surprise it was a species new to me, (not the world’s most knowledgeable or well traveled birder), a Hermit Thrush! Bueno! A new bird to add to my life list this year along with the Indigo Bunting I saw a month or so back.
I’m lucky to have an irrigation ditch 50 feet to the south, and a wonderful wooded lot between our house and the neighbor to the east. The east lot is full of fruit trees; apples, mulberries, cherries, plums and apricots, as well as a cottonwood, some elms, a blue spruce, pyracantha, a few 40 year old rogue fragrant rose bushes, and a whole lot of wildlife. This is prime real estate for birds, and is only 2 miles from the Rio Grande and its bosque. Wildlife galore, smack in the middle of the city.
I didn’t know what kind of bird it was when I caught it, but I knew it wasn’t a sparrow or finch due to the longer legs and longer, narrower beak. I snapped a few photos and took a long look before releasing this cutie, and then looked it up in my three different bird books before feeling confident enough to say…yup – that is definitely a Hermit Thrush – without a bit of doubt. Now – the voice of America part of it all…
While further researching the Hermit Thrush this evening, I found something to make me feel I was having a WooHoo moment. I found that Walt Whitman, in his elegy for Lincoln, When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom’d, depicts the Hermit Thrush, a solitary creature, as one of three reoccurring symbols in this poem. The thrush is the soulful voice reacting to Lincoln’s untimely death and passing. Some scholars refer to role of the thrush in this literary work as the voice of America reacting to Lincoln’s assassination. I saw it as the voice of Whitman – his reflection of all Americans, each lamenting Lincoln’s death in their own introspective solitude, and with a solidarity befitting the death of such a powerful and visionary leader. The Thrush was definitely them. Their mournful voice singing out in the swamp of America’s post-war political unrest.
I had never read this poem, or any other elegy for that matter, and when I found this poem and read it, I was really moved. What a poetic voice and visual it is. What a masterful convergence of words, and emotion. Whitman was fervent admirer of Lincoln and was deeply saddened at his murder, as is evident in this poem as well as his most famous writing, O Captain! My Captain!, also about the death of Lincoln. A new Spielberg movie about Abraham Lincoln is opening soon, a week or so after the election. I hope Spielberg uses this poem and Hermit Thrush visual in the film. It would be perfect.
All together, the omnipresent political unrest in America, its Presidential Election in a few days, and the upcoming Spielberg film about Lincoln made the Hermit Thrush flying in our back door seem very timely to me. My WooHoo moment, so to speak.
The bird pics are a little fuzzy, but hey, I wasn’t going to make this little guy wait for me to get the best shot possible. I had to set America’s voice free!
Constantly learning new things in Albuquerque!
Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!