The “Flute Bird” – errata

We found the Arizona Highways article that we alluded to in today’s earlier post. On page 40, the May 2005 issue contains a narrative by Kelly Tighe, “The ‘Flute Bird’ Reaveals Its True Beauty in the Rincon Mountains.”

The author narrates a similar long and fruitless quest to identify an “elusive flute bird” with a haunting call. The bird he identified was a hermit thrush, at Deer Head Spring, in Arizona’s Rincon Mountains, “a wilderness of remote deep canyons and rocky ridges east of Tucson.”

This bird was described as “a plain brown, robin-shaped bird with a spotted breast.” Of his discovery, the author writes,

One [birding] guide describes the song as “ethereal and flutelike,” while another describes the eloquence of its song, “Beginning with a long, mellow note, it proceeds with a clear series of flutelike notes that ascend and descend the scale. These phrases are repeated, each time beginning with a different pitch.”

Could the hermit thrush be our celebrated “Popslider bird”? Perhaps. We shall see – and prevail. When I think “flute”, I think Walter Piston, Herbie Mann, or the haunting trill thematic in Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kiji Suite. Our Popslider’s song does not change pitch with each iteration – he can carry a tune.

But, everything else about this bird fits like a glove, especially his hard-to-find “hermit” habits, and the clear notes of his song. Mr. Popslider, if you have migrated to some distant haunts in the mountains around Tucson, we’ll welcome you back next year!

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