Today the wood thrush returned to the Crum Woods. I have been waiting for this event for months. I first heard the thrush’s strange and wonderful birdcall three years ago, when I moved to a house in the woods outside Philadelphia. My friend Adrienne announced, “That’s the thrush! It’s back.” She explained that the thrush, while wintering in Mexico and Central America, spends the rest of the year in the eastern United States eating grubs, raising its young, and singing its beautiful song.

The song of the wood thrush is unlike anything else I have ever heard — liquid, flute-like, and perfectly pitched. The thrush vocalizes a kind of duet with itself in which it simultaneously produces two independent musical notes that reverberate with each other. To me it sounds like throat singing, the vocal technique that Tibetan monks use to sing two notes...

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