We have lived in this farmhouse we built ourselves now for over 25 years. For all that time (and who knows how much time before?) we have shared our home with a female grey thrush. For many years she was without a mate, then one miraculously arrived. She nested three times that first year – always in a hole in our mud brick wall where we have yet to lay the last brick. We cannot: it is the thrush’s home too. She raised eight chicks that first year. Each year since she raised at least two clutches.
During this winter I spotted some grey feathers in the garden and was concerned that a cat or fox had taken her. Today a thrush was singing in the nest once more, but it was not she. One of her daughters almost certainly, but a voice has been stilled here at Jeeralang Junction. She may be no more, but the valley rings to the songs of her many descendants yet.
She was ever a cheerful and friendly bird, with her clear call of, ‘Cho, Cho Wee!’ I would whistle an answer and she would come to say, ‘Hello’ and practice a medley of birdsong with me. Never quite in arm’s reach but ever so near; she would sit on a twig or perhaps the back of a verandah chair close by. We would sing a round or three. Her daughter’s call is more like, ‘Cho wee, Cho wee, wee’. I answer her with her mother’s song. She cranes her head to the side and gazes at me quizzically. We have a sort of understanding perhaps.
Here she is on 27 September 2014 in her favourite spot in the unfinished wall working on another clutch of her many descendants. I shall miss her.
PS: News of her death may be premature. Just as I was posting this right now, a thrush landed just outside the window, not 3′ away. The familiar ‘Cho, Cho, Wee’ seemed to ring out loud and clear. I can hear her yet moving around the garden. She has just answered me thrice! She is back for one more year then. How long do song thrushes live I wonder?