Friday, March 10, 2006

Listening to morning Birdsong

The spring weather was so incredibly nice this morning, so I sat out on our deck and enjoyed the warmth of the rising sun prior to leaving for work. I decided to close my eyes and listen to the chorus of birdsong and find out how attuned my ears would be at identification. Aside from an occasional car or airplane, the only other competition from non-bird noise was the water trickle from melting snow coming down the gutters.

Almost constant were the deep-deeps of American Robins and the weet-tew-tew-tew songs of Northern Cardinals. Mourning Dove’s ooooh-aaaahh-oooo-oooo could be heard throughout and there was much to sing about if you were a House Finch or Dark-eyed Junco. A couple of American Crows sounded as if they were plotting a neighborhood take-over from various strategically significant points. An accomplice Blue Jay seemed to be in on it...or was it protest?

There were several flocks of Canada Geese that honked passed, with the occasional straggler sounding off a slightly more urgent call. In the distance I could just make out the ruckus from several Sandhill Cranes, probably in the fields or marsh just west of Waunakee.

Most plentiful were Red-winged Blackbirds ( some males singing in flight) with an occasional Common Grackle or two trailing behind. One grackle briefly perched in our maple, perhaps with its eye on the feeders below, but quickly reverted to its northward trek. Rounding out the icterids, a Brown-headed Cowbird announced its furtive presence.

A pleasant surprise was chuckle-chatter of two separate flocks of northbound Lapland Longspurs. The neighborhood Red-bellied Woodpecker churred a few times but remained about a block away. The mouse-like rapid chips and then subsequent yenk yenks of the Red-breasted Nuthatches followed, but remained for only one peanut run before returning to the spruce trees.

For some reason, a lone Killdeer’s call reminded me to check my watch so I wouldn’t be late for work. A few other birds included the fee-bee-bee song of Black-capped Chickadees, and of course the chit-chit chip notes of the wintering Yellow-rumped Warbler - still my favorite among our current backyard birds. With such great weather for migration, I can’t imagine that the warbler is going to stick around much longer.

For me, spring isn’t necessarily the arrival of a certain date on a calendar, or when the sun crosses the celestial’s the return of birds and their chorus of birdsong. Spring is here.

Other celebrations of spring:

Link: Cindy Mead - And so it begins...

Link: Bill Thompson III - Major Signs of Spring

All images © 2006 Mike McDowell

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