A Shama Thrush Builds A Home in My House

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A Shama Thrush Builds A Home in My House

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Kauai
Mar 29, 2013

The skies were blue when I retreated to the lanai with my morning tea. At the foot of the stairs, a rooster stretched his head and let out his best crow. A few seconds later, another rooster on the other side of the house responded, and the domino effect made its way down the valley. Other birds were singing, including a Western meadowlark, its black V set on bright yellow breast.  A Zebra dove cooed.

I start my day in meditation in this fashion, facing Kalalea, a distinctive mountain that seems to wrap around me. As I settled in this morning, before letting my eyelids drop, I turned to my right to see two White-rumped shama, a male and a female, perched on the copper railing at the end of the lanai, maybe 20 feet away.

Also known as the Shama thrush, the bird was introduced to Kauai in 1931 and can be seen from one end of the island to the other, from Hanalei to Kekaha. They just may have the most beautiful song of all the birds, natives included, in the Hawaiian Islands. Its voice is loud and clear and moves through a variety of phrasings. I’ve been known to carry on a conversation with a Shama a time or two. They are excellent at mimicry.

They’re also quite friendly. Once ,when I was camping in Kalalalu Valley along Napali Coast, a Shama would alight on a tree stump every time I returned to my campsite, as if to welcome me home, and we’d talk.

But, today, with two present, something about their behavior made me keep quiet.

He looked at her and, then, up at a spot in the rafters. He looked back at her, and while she watched, he made a decision to fly a few feet above into the rafter. She sat still, and I noticed she had a small twig or piece of grass in her bill. They’re building a nest, I think, and a flutter of excitements tickled the inside of my chest cavity. 

He flitted back down to the railing, looked at her and back at the spot. So, she spread her wings and with minimal effort hardly flew at all but hopped up to the spot. A few seconds later, she returned to the railing, the piece of grass still in her bill. They looked at each other. He flew off. 

She waited a bit and flew back to the spot. Returned to the railing, with the grass. Looked up at the spot. 

This is an important decision choosing where to build a nest, where to start a family, a place to call home. “It’s a good spot,” I think, doing my best at cross-species communication. “I know.” And, then, I turn away, not wanting to invade this private moment any longer.


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