Monday, May 22, 2006


When spring comes I become a hopelessly-romantic fool. It’s all part of the greater effect of warm sunny days, blossoming sweet-scented trees, croaking frogs, greening grass, and the twittering song of so many birds.

Now I’m not a bird watcher, bird identifier, and I am as deficient in bird-culture facts as I am deficient in the knowledge of gizmos and small motor repair. But I still love having birdies around.

This year there are many and they are just a-singin’. I noticed the sudden increase in bird song a couple of weeks ago when I was working outside. And because it was such a grand chorus, with so many sweet clear notes that I had not heard over the winter, I listened and tried to sort them out.

Some sang songs of sheer ecstasy about a new love. Some sang excited and welcoming words to old friends recently arrived from their winter holiday in the south. Some sang just to hear themselves sing. And others chattered and twittered with consummate joy over a new nest, a new home, and the expectation of a new family.

It is early yet and few, if any, of the smaller birds have hatched but I remember other years hearing Mom birds tutoring their new babes at eventide in the rhythm, sequence, and pitch of their theme song. This is one seminar that is such fun to listen to and you can easily identify the seminar from the sounds. What I heard was first a clear twee-twee-twitter-twit-twee that was immediately followed by an echo with four syllables instead of five. And then I would hear the master voice again. And again I would hear that small echo that now had a misplaced twee. And so the lesson would go on. I laughed. It was such a funny and endearing sound.

But some bird sounds are less endearing. While walking in the woods earlier this year, thoughtfully absorbing sounds, I heard agonizing squawks coming from what I took to be a large bird hidden up high in a giant spruce tree. Now I have been told and I expect it is true that larger birds nest earlier than the smaller birds. The larger owls nest very early. I guess this is just another example of the perfection of the laws of nature. It makes perfect sense that the nesting habits of birds should be paced and spaced to equalize food resources. Also it provides for a bit of air traffic control in peak season when large birds could be a mortal hazard to tiny birds if they were all criss-crossing the airways at the same time.

Nevertheless, because this was the sound of a large bird, I expected it was nested somewhere in the top of the spruce tree. And the squawking sound I heard immediately put me in mind of the noise I used to hear chickens make mid-morning when I was a kid on the farm. Their egg-laying always involved raucous squawks of protest. Usually a short repetition of loud curses culminating in one great long expletive. So on hearing repeated squawks of obvious discomfort from that big bird, I smiled to myself and concluded that this was probably an early nester.

And the sound? A birthing sound. Probably of a new Mom giving birth to an egg in a breech position. That would be so not nice.

P.S. This is just a wee rant to encourage the shutting down of artificial sounds and the return for a brief moment to nature’s sounds of romance, humor, and occasional agony.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's not much you cannot learn from nature. Thanks for serving as guide.

susan @ spinning

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anne said...

We mostly have crows. Soooo not lyrical. Have a lovely week dear.

6:18 PM  
Blogger PEA said...

I'm an early riser and to me, there's nothing more magical than going out on my deck at 6 a.m. (if it's warm enough!!) to have my coffee and listening to all the birds...the robins, the sparrows, the gold finches, chickadees, etc...all have such a sweet sound and often I close my eyes and just listen to them. Then there's the crows and grackles who sound like squeaky hinges...not so pleasant! lol

6:11 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi susan, glad you enjoyed our outdoor stroll. Thanks for visiting.

anne and pea, seems you both have a similar disaffection for crows. But I guess we should appreciate that despite their screeching, they are supposed to be one of the cleverest birds, probably only second to those smart-alec ravens, which for all I know, might be first cousins.

12:32 AM  

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