Thursday, April 5, 2007

By Sound Rather Than by Sight



I was in college when the Exotic Sounds of Martin Denny instrumental music was popular: Sounds of Paradise, chirping birds punctuated with an occasional squawk of a Macaw all set to lovely music. Exotica, Quiet Village, Jungle Drums. So restful...right?

Many evenings right at sundown we sit by the lake and watch for whatever we might see...birds reptiles, rolling otter, skydivers. Lately we have done as much listening as watching.

It started with the first squawks out of the young Sand Hill Cranes about 1/4 mile away. Now, 3-4 months old, their voices are piercing; ear-splitting. This particular set of parents had 2 offspring this year, rather than the more common 1 baby. Attempts by a third Sand Hill Crane youngster to join them have been rebuffed. For the last couple of days one sibling has sat at the far end of the one-mile island preserve in the middle of our long lake and the other has sat on the shore of the bay on which we live at the other end. Figure that for a full mile and they are hollering back and forth most of the day. OK ...I can live with that, though not happily, but today they started their loud communication at 8 minutes to 7 in the morning. And the closest Sand Hill was on the utility wires by our bedroom window. I was so annoyed I didn't even take a photo of it. That bird balanced, just barely with those long legs, and yelled until the Macaw a neighbor owns screamed the bird away...about an hour later.

I thought the annoying crows were bad. I even found a Mockingbird less than charming after an hour of his songs. But these cranes are something else! I wish I could record the early morning din and share it with you.

Did I say "early morning"? Like teenagers, the birds are often hollering late at night...midnight to 2 in the morning. Usually not all that close, though. Then there is some other bird. It might be a small owl. "Hoot, Hoot" added to the crane din is enough when you need sleep to really strain the patience.

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Gabby Faye
Michigan, United States
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