The Joy of Surprise

Wood Thrush

A Haloween Wood Thrush treat in Chicago (click to see the larger version)

One of the most endearing qualities of looking for birds is an element of surprise – the potential to see something unusual, unexpected, or even extraordinary. This element of surprise doesn’t just apply to finding a rare bird. Finding a common bird in an unusual circumstance can be exciting too. Case in point, the Wood Thrush I saw at Montrose on October 31, 2020. Wood Thrushes are common in the eastern United States; we see them every spring as migrants at Montrose, and they breed throughout Illinois in appropriate habitat. By the end of October however they should be on their wintering grounds in Central America or well on their way there, so imagine my surprise when I first laid eyes on this bird. To borrow and modify something Forrest Gump said, birding is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.