I greet the day early each morning listening to bird song when I’m in the country—chirping, whistling, trilling as the sun rises. The birds tweet all around me, warbling up and down the musical scales with their own rhythms and melodies. I don’t see many of the birds, except when the bird feeder is full. They are high in the trees, occasionally swooping out over the river then disappearing again. All the while they continue their songs and conversation among themselves and to each other.
This week I came across an app on my phone that will identify a bird by its photo or by its sound. I’ve downloaded this electronic savant and now aim my phone and its microphone towards the dominant sound and am given the name of the bird. I’m still deciding if I’ve taken the magic away from my moments or have enriched my morning. I now know I’m serenaded at various times by House Wrens, Bluebirds, Mockingbirds, Blue Jays, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Bobwhite Quails, Purple Marlins, Wood Thrushes, Chickadees, House Sparrows, Western Meadowlarks, Kingbirds, Flickers, Merlin’s, Tufted Titmouses, Sandpipers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Anna’s Hummingbird, a Great Blue Heron, an Osprey and some days a Cardinal and Crows and at night by a Great Horned Owl, a Barred Owl, a Screech-Owl, a Pygmy Owl and now an Alder Flycatcher. Could there really be that many different birds? I’ve been adding names and sounds ever since I downloaded the app and each day record new bird songs.
As autumn arrives, the sounds will be enhanced by ducks and geese who will arrive for the winter. I wonder if the birds distinguish among themselves and their flocks? Do they talk only to their own or also to each other? They often sing at the same time with the sounds layering on each other like some celestial disco. Do they compete for space in the skies and trees? Or do they party and sing together?
Ornithologists no doubt have the answers, or at least informed observations. Over time, I’ll read more on my new app about these birds and their habits. For now, I’ll keep the birdfeeder filled and try to enjoy my flighty neighbors with more knowledge and appreciation though maybe with some of the symphonic magic drawn from the morning.