I was standing on the back deck of a dark, split-level, shingle-style house. It overlooked a small clearing in a forest, I'll call the backyard. The yard sloped noticeably giving the impression I was in mountainous, or at least very hilly, country.
The forest appeared a northern type; a good mixture of tall hardwoods and conifers. Leafless branches told me it was probably winter, but I could not see any snow. An anonymous group of passerines noisily made their way through the bare canopy in the distance. Suddenly, the still was broken by an adult Cooper's Hawk that wove through the trees and settled on a branch not fifty feet away.
Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
After feeling I'd had enough time with the hawk, I headed to the front yard. Upon arriving there, I looked up and noticed a Turkey Vulture and Golden Eagle soaring in lazy circles fairly high above.
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)
Golden Eagle (Aquila chryseatos) - sub-adult
Continuing, I strolled across the expansive front yard toward a line of tall bushes a hundred feet off. As I arrived, a male House Finch and adult Barn Swallow zipped across my path not far above my head.
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) - male
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Beyond the bushes was a short slope that led to an orchard. I investigated. A few seconds later I began "pishing" and was rewarded with three American Robin showing themselves. I turned to move on, when something at the top of a nearby tree caught my eye. The piece-de-resistance: a Varied Thrush. Niiiiiice! I noticed a small group of birders a few dozen yards away and motioned for them to head my way.
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius)
Just then my youngest son, Miles, popped into the dream. I excitedly pointed out the thrush to him, then attempted to explain the significance of the bird. Poor kid, I was probably over intellectualizing the experience for him. Clearly the dream locale was far from the Pacific northwest, so this really was a big deal. Once this dawned on me, I asked one of the other birders to notify their local rare bird hotline, and to call as many folks they knew. I really enjoy when as many people as possible get to share experiences like this.