Tuesday, 28 January 2014

He calls thrice over

Each morning I wake to the repeated notes of a song thrush, a bird that has made a perch of the old apple tree, ivy covered but still producing fruit, that sits next door. It is, it seems, his favourite song post. It is here that he starts and ends his morning chorus, shifting only rarely to other perches close by. By listening hard you can just about make out the songs of his rivals, distant and several streets away, elsewhere within town.

The song thrush has a reputation for repetition in his song, often repeating the same note ‘thrice over’. His song is more complex than this, however; the series of notes shifts and morphs as he dips into his repertoire to deliver tasty morsels of sound. The notes have a shrill edge, more cutting than those of the blackbird, whose own notes carry a richness – ripe and plump like the berries of autumn on which he feeds. The resident blackbirds start up their own chorus on the milder mornings but they lack the persistence of this song thrush, who sings no matter how crisp the day’s beginning.

There are plenty of opportunities for this particular individual, should he attract a mate. Thick ivy covers many of the old flint walls and clambers over the shrubs on the scruffy bits of waste ground cut off by road, path and housing. The male’s song both proclaims his ownership and advertises his suitability as a mate. The diversity and range of notes delivered reveals much about the singer; in some species a diverse repertoire is a sign of a high quality individual and one, therefore, worth mating with.

The first song thrush eggs are usually laid in March but earlier nests are sometimes found and the mild start to 2014, if unchecked, will almost certainly deliver a scatter of early nests this year. The nest itself will be placed in thick cover and lined with chewed up wood – which has the appearance of chipboard – and it is onto this lining that the beautiful blue eggs will be laid. For the next few weeks I can expect the song thrush to continue his chorus, his notes repeated ‘thrice over’.

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