When the Thrushes Return

Jet Eliot

Varied Thrush, male, California Varied Thrush, male, California

It is in the autumn when the birds have left their summer breeding grounds, that we gratefully receive the thrushes in northern California.

We watch all summer long as the toyon bushes and madrone trees flower, then bear fruit. Toward late summer the berries grow bigger and start to turn from green to orange and red.  Here’s what we say, “It looks like the berries will be just right for the thrushes.”

Hermit Thrush on Toyon Hermit Thrush on Toyon

If we are so lucky to get rain–and we have been this year–then the berries grow plump and they are perfect for the thrushes.

Not every year does it all turn out so well. If we have drought, the berries wither and drop to the ground. And the thrushes do not come.

But right now, our hillsides and forests are bright with the fresh new berries ripening in the autumn sun.

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