Backyard Songs

As a part of the Writing 101 challenge, I’ve decided to write and publish today’s challenge: free-write for 20 minutes.  5:15 pm. And go…

It was finally warm enough to open the windows here today for a few hours. Fresh air hasn’t been in our house for some time now. And even though the breeze was a bit chilly, I left the window open as Ollie and I snuggled up for our afternoon nap.

Even at just days shy of four years old, Ollie is still an amazing napper. And since I enjoy a good nap myself, whenever I am not working, I always nap with him in my bed. Some days I will read while he drifts off. Some days I’m practically asleep even before he closes his eyes.

Today, even though I wanted to move forward in the book I’m currently enthralled with, I thought for a second how he’s getting older and older and one day will not at all be interested in napping with his mama. So I closed the book and turned to face him and watch his adorable, chubby-cheeked face while he fell asleep.

It was while I was doing this that I started paying more attention to the sounds coming in through my bedroom window.

We live in the middle of the city, but I’ve worked really hard to turn our quarter acre yard into a welcome place for all sorts of animal life. We get rabbits pretty regularly–destroying my sweet peas, green beans, and worst of all , my lilies. Two of our three cats came wandering toward us from our backyard. Incidentally, as I type this, another–a tortoise shell beauty–is sitting one yard over.

But most of all, we get tons of birds. The flowers I plant are planned purposefully based on butterfly and bird interest. I never chop down my plants in the fall because I know the birds use it for last minute food before the winter sets in, as well as the occasional shelter.

I’ve always loved animals. and I’ve always been interested in our natural world. But just recently I’ve really gotten into birding.

And it was this sound that came through my bedroom window–the sounds of calling birds. One in particular, though, caught my attention. If you listen carefully, you can distinguish one sound from another, even when calls are out there in a group. This sound I’d heard many times in the past, but was never able to place what bird was issuing it. And in the past I did little to explore it further. Not this time.

Just this week I bought a bird identification book, as well as two nesting boxes. I’ve been sitting at my dining room picture window with my binoculars checking out the different feathered friends that find their way into my newly growing yard. And this visual identification has spawned my identifying their calls and songs.

I was surprised to find that this call I was hearing during naptime was actually a Northern cardinal. Very common in the area. But I thought I knew the cardinal’s song, and this wasn’t it. To my surprise and delight I found out that these birds have over 16 distinct sounds, all specific to mood and purpose. A language all to their own. As a lover of language, I was thrilled to learn this.

Despite what many might believe, these bird calls aren’t just one-sided or static. The cacophony that is heard at dawn, if you’re lucky enough to be awake to hear this chorus, is an entire neighborhood abuzz with the new day and all calling out expressing their individual moments. It’s beautiful.

Birding, beautiful? Isn’t birding for old people? Even my kids and husband don’t get it. “Why are you so into birds all of a sudden?” “Am I going to have to hear all about birds all summer?”

I can’t really explain my newfound obsession with avians. I just find them so mesmerizing. They’re so elusive, fluttering here and there so quickly. You’re lucky if they pause and you get a good look at them. You must have patience to observe them for any length of time or for any number of encounters. And even though they are mostly prey animals, they are so cunning, and free. They want to go somewhere, they do. Up up and away.

Who can’t relate to that and be jealous?

5:35. Stop.


2 thoughts on “Backyard Songs

  1. Oh what a wonderful post to be introduced to your world. I feel like I completely understand about the birds! How their songs change from the winter to the spring; their beautiful songs, are happy making for me. I sit at my dinning table, which we placed next to a huge picture window, where we can open the windows and really listen to the real tweeting! I know what you mean about the Cardinal! I thought I knew it, but realized, as I watched recently one sitting nearby that the call changed. It seemed to change when another responded in turn.

    One thing which I was enjoying last summer and into the autumn, was what I call secret spot meditation. I’d sit out in the yard, sort of back, and quietly wait and suddenly, I’d start to see them, birds, chipmunks, groundhogs, and rabbits, all coming out and tending their business as if I was just another resident (which I am, but you know)… My greatest moments were when a dragonfly landed upon my journal, and I just sat watching, mesmerized.

    Your post was very inspiring! Thank you. 🙂


    1. Thanks so much! 😊
      I too really love just observing the critters around me when I’m outdoors. I love going out in the shade of my maple tree in my yard and reading, which usually at some point turns into just sitting and watching nature. I only wish I had more to experience, but we don’t get chipmunks, groundhogs, deer, or the like in the city.
      Thanks again for your reading and feedback! 😊


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