As daylight fades, the evening chorus crescendos.
A riot of song sallies forth from every tree. There are robins, catbirds, phoebes, chickadees, orioles, and many more I don’t recognize. They sing with and over each other, declaring their existence, virility, and beauty.
Sometimes in the quiet pauses, I can hear a wood thrush, its high notes easily drowned out by other voices.
Everything is glorious. As the sun sets through the woods, the exuberance of a spring day starts to slow. The evening is warm and still, the leaves are full and fresh, and babies are being born and raised all around.
The daylight dims another 10 percent perhaps, and the chorus begins to fade.
Except the wood thrush. He was only warming up while the others were raising their ruckus. His song deserves to be heard. It is clear and liquid like water gushing from a spring at the foot of a bluff, rushing down sandstone to the river.
The bird is a good neighbor.
In the height of nesting and breeding season, the wood thrush sometimes sings all day. But he performs his improvised aria, displays his mastery, during the last minutes of light. When the woods are quiet, he sings without interruption, repeating variations on his magical melody.
Everything else in this densely-populated forest listens. The wood thrush sings the young of many species off to sleep.
Then it is nearly dark, and the bird pauses. It’s the first break of any length in 10 minutes. He quickly sings again, but then the pauses become more frequent, and longer.
Twenty-five minutes after sunset, he sings only sporadically. Then, without warning, in the last couple minutes of twilight, the bird falls silent.
The world spins back toward the sun, and soon he’ll sound the morning.
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