Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Morning Symphony

I woke up early this morning because the night starts to lift shortly after 5 a.m. now. Morning's increasing light wakes me up gradually, which is far more pleasant than the alarm. Of course, I could sleep longer if I closed the curtains, but then I couldn’t watch the woods from my bed as I’m falling asleep each night. This morning, instead of just lieing in bed and waiting for the alarm to go off, as I usually do, I got up and decided to take the dogs for longer walks instead.

Dog and I went down the mountain to the pond and walked around it. Spring’s dawn chorus is already starting to be fairly impressive, though still far from the near-deafening crescendo of sound that is late April or early May. This morning’s chorus started with the sound of a lone eastern phoebe. That bird just entered the spring’s chorus for the first time last weekend, one of the very earliest migrants. The phoebe is early in other ways, too, often starting its call when the night is just a few shades paler than fully dark. The phoebe was joined not much later in the morning by the cardinals, bluebirds and robins. Calling crows, a screaming killdeer and the distant honk of geese add their voices.

The mockingbirds provide jazz riffs—you never know whose song is going to come of those beaks. I’ve found that listening to what songs they’re singing at the moment pretty much tells you what other species of birds are around. It was the mockingbird who first alerted me to the newly arrived presence of the phoebe. The mocker has been singing robin and blue jay and bluebird songs for weeks, but suddenly the phoebe’s voice was added to the repertoire, a sure sign that the noisy gray bird had heard the call recently. Later that same morning I heard the song from the real deal, not the faux trickster.

A few minute later, the morning’s second act starts—the song sparrow and the twittering juncos, punctuated by the occasional percussive staccato of the flickers hammering territory on dead trees and transformer boxes (love that hollow sound!).

The walk and daily morning performance were just what I needed, far better than a few extra minutes of coziness in bed.

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