Summer, it officially started on the 21st. I always think of summer starting with the songs of the birds. I eagerly listen for the song that will give me a mental vision of the lovely bird who sings it.
I learned many years ago that I usually hear more birds than I see. Not seeing wild birds doesn't have to mean you can't learn about them. All you need to do is get a closer look now that you've heard them and know where to look. It's an easy thing to do and just takes a little of your time.
Once you have matched the bird with the song, your knowledge of birds will grow. You may be surprised when you discover that the same bird may have several different calls. But, as usually is the case, a bird's different songs still tell you it's the same bird.
Most birds have several different songs or calls and it is a fun challenge to learn them all.
Some birds call their names. The little chickadee is one who comes to mind. Their cheery chick-a-dee-dee- dee always makes me look for them.
The phoebe sings his name as he sits on a branch above the stream.
Each evening a whip-poor-will calls his name from the woods and in the morning I hear the hum of a hummingbird's wings as she passes by my ear. I always like to get a closer look at each one so I can tell how many pairs may be around. The males have the beautiful ruby- red throat.
From the thicket of blackberries comes the recognizable call of a cat, mew, mew, mew. I know there isn't really a cat in the berry patch but a catbird, hidden among the leafy stalks. The catbird is different, in that he has more than just a few songs. Besides the mew, he sings a long succession of different calls and songs, some being very musical.
There are four birds that I know of who sing this way. They are the mockingbird, catbird, shrike and the other songster in my yard, the brown thrasher.
The other day I watched as a beautiful brown thrasher hopped among the flowering branches of a locust tree near the house. He was very clever moving around without stepping on the nasty, sharp thorns. His bright yellow eye was on the look-out for tasty insects and the fragrant blossoms of the black locust tree, attract all kinds of insects.
The thrasher is a brown bird with a spotted breast and about the size of a robin. They have noticeably longer tails than most other birds and have the habit of singing from a high perch in a tree or bush.
The songs of the brown thrasher are very similar to those of the catbird except the thrasher signs each song twice. Because he repeats each song, you know the bird you hear is not a catbird. Henry David Thoreau noted the thrasher's call as "drop it, drop it, cover it, cover it. I'll pull it up, I'll pull it up."
The songs of the brown thrasher are unmistakable once you learn them but the bird who lives among the thickets with a long tail could also be a cuckoo. Oh! There's so much to learn.
Anyone who really wants to learn more about birds can start by using their ears. Let the wild birds teach you who they are by listening to their language.
All art ©2013 Organic Valley