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C is for CHEER

I’ve not thought about the word “cheer” as an actual feeling until today. But I have been feeling cheery of late—thanks to a little bird.

This feeling started about a week ago when a bird showed up on our front deck under a birdhouse where we put suet for the woodpeckers. I thought at first that the bird was a puffed up sparrow because of its colour and markings: drabbish brown head and top of body; spotted breast; dull white underbelly. But watching the bird hopping here and there, picking up morsels of suet the messy-eating woodpeckers flick about, I eventually realized that it was much larger than a sparrow; also, definitely bigger than the finches, chickadees, and nuthatches that frequent our feeders.   It pecked away on the deck under the suet feeder, occasionally stopping to twitch its tail which I thought was a nervous tick.

I worried about the bird. Thought it may be injured or sick, as it didn’t fly up to the suet feeder right above its head as other birds did. I also wondered if its brain wasn’t functioning on all cylinders. After all, within mere feet were two giant feeders—one full of sunflower seed and another full of Niger seed but it didn’t visit those.

Then a light went on. Use your own brain! Get your bird books out!

Turns out our guest is a Hermit Thrush. A Hermit Thrush! Although I’ve yet to hear this one sing, I’ve heard HT’s while camping or paddling in the wilderness. They are often referred to as the Nightingale of birds. Such amazing flute-like melodies! But I didn’t come to this conclusion right away. I had to take a closer look and do more reading.

My old book titled The Birds of Nova Scotia by Robie W. Tufts informed me that there are three kinds of thrushes: Swainson’s, Gray-cheeked and Hermit. The latter is noted for its cinnamon-hued tail—check! And, get this, its twitching tail—check!

As far as I can tell, there is only one Hermit Thrush here, so that’s a bit troubling as I wonder if it has a mate and if it’s OK. And our bird books didn’t explain why they don’t eat from feeders. I turned to Google and found some great bird sites, including this one here. Aha! Thrushes are ground-feeding birds. Yes, they fly, but they eat berries and insects. I took many photos through my dirty front window and posted one on FB. A colleague and bird lover told me to put some suet, nuts and berries on the floor of the deck. Sure enough, birdie is happy and so am I.

I actually looked up the definition of “cheer”; there are many, including nouns, verbs and intransitive verbs. Here are a few that resonate with me: lightness of mind and feeling; a state of mind or heart; something that gladdens; to instill with hope or courage.    

And now that I’ve come to the end of my little ramble, I’m going to confess. This post was the result of a writing prompt this morning. Ginny Boudreau and I are doing the alphabet—using a letter a day to prompt a freefall writing exercise. Today was the letter C. So there you have it. Cheating. At least it’s another C word.

PS: These photos of the Hermit Thrush were taken in the past three days.


  1. Nancy Robinson Nancy Robinson
    January 29, 2022    

    Lovely post, Sandra. I have just signed up to get your blog – so now I am “cheered up” and “cheery”. I am writing to ask if I may send this on to the NS Bird Society. They might like to read it but especially to know there is a Hermit Thrush in the Tusket River area.

  2. Joyce Glasner Joyce Glasner
    January 29, 2022    

    Dear Sandra, Your post about the little Hermit Thrush was a real bright spot in what was yet another dismal day in lockdown! And it did instill hope.. thank you for that! 🙂

  3. Sheila Nichols Sheila Nichols
    January 30, 2022    

    Your lovely article certainly “ cheered” me up! Thank you!

  4. Carol Carol
    January 30, 2022    

    Poor little thing! He should be in the sunny south. Usually return middle or late April.

  5. January 31, 2022    

    Gotta love it when a challenge lets you expound on a subject you love. Great fun!

  6. John Irving John Irving
    February 8, 2022    

    “The Nightingale of birds” – good one. And CHEERS to you.

    • John Irving John Irving
      February 8, 2022    

      So what are nightingales? The chopped liver of birds?

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