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Rachel Carson and the Veery

A plain bird with a beautiful song...
© Andrew Weitzel View Large

Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, and her beloved friend Dorothy Freeman shared a love of nature… and especially of one particular bird: the Veery, a type of thrush. Plain looking as it is, the Veery has a particularly beautiful song.

Hear the extended podcast from BirdNote Presents.

This story was based on the scholarship of Lida Maxwell. She wrote about Carson and Freeman in the paper Queer/Love/Bird Extinction: Rachel Carson's Silent Spring as a Work of Love, published in Political Theory.

Full Transcript



Rachel Carson and the Veery

Written by Liza Yeager

Liza Yeager: This is BirdNote.

[Veery song]

Rachel Carson, the author of Silent Spring, had a really serious relationship with a woman named Dorothy Freeman. They wrote love letters to each other. And in those  letters, they wrote a lot about one bird that became really special to them: the Veery, a type of thrush. The Veery is pretty plain-looking, but it has a particularly beautiful song.

[Veery song]

Liza Yeager: Hearing that song — and hearing it together — became kind of a quest for them. Here’s an excerpt from one of Carson’s early letters to Freeman. 

I think it is quite possible for you and me and the Veeries to be together in some magical time and place next June.

Liza Yeager: Carson and Freeman lived many states apart. But the Veeries brought them together, despite the distance.

Carson VO: I learned the other day while I was in Rock Creek Park listening to Veeries and wishing for you, you were walking along your road listening to Wood Thrushes and wishing for me.

Liza Yeager: You can hear the full story about Rachel Carson’s love for Dorothy Freeman and the Veeries on our new podcast, BirdNote Presents. Search for it in your podcast app, or find it at our website, I’m Liza Yeager.

[Veery song]

Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Salie Bodie
Editor: Ashley Ahearn
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Assistant Producer: Mark Bramhill
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. ML94386 Veery song recorded by W Hershberger, Maryland, June.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© 2020 BirdNote   January 2020       Narrator: Liza Yeager

ID#  carsonr-05-2020-01-07     carsonr-05

Sights & Sounds