March 19, 1858

in Thoreau’s Journal:

By the river I see distinctly red-wings and hear their congueree. They are not associated with grackles. They are an age before their cousins, have attained to clearness and liquidity; they are officers, epauleted. The others are rank and file. I distinguish one even by its flight, hovering slowly from tree-top to tree-top, as if ready to utter its liquid notes. Their whistle is very clear and sharp, while that of the grackle is ragged and split.


It is a fine evening, as I stand on the bridge. The waters are quite smooth, very little ice to be seen. The red-wing and song-sparrow are singing, and a flock of tree-sparrows is pleasantly warbling. A new era has come. The red-wing’s gurgle-ee is heard where smooth waters begin. One or two boys are out trying their skiffs, even like the fuzzy gnats in the sun, and as often as one turns his boat round on the smooth surface, the setting sun is reflected from its side.

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