Maybe it has something to do with the fact I've had extra time on my hands this spring while I recuperated from surgery. For whatever reason, I'm hearing songbirds belting it out all around my yard like I never remember hearing; it's like they're vying for a top five finish on American Idol.
As I'm sure my readers have concluded after reading my columns for nearly four decades, I'm a hunter and fisherman but I also enjoy watching and identifying songbirds that visit my little plot of ground. This spring, the birds have put on a command performance.
In addition to the regulars, such as cardinals, doves, Carolina chickadees, tufted titmice et al, I've identified some not-so-common species that have turned it up a notch this spring.
Let's start with the summer tanager. When you first get a glimpse of a male, you'll swear you're looking at a male cardinal. Check him out a little closer and you'll realize it's a bird of a different feather. Males are solid red but lack the topknot of the cardinal. Females are orange-yellow. According to my dog-eared "Birds of North America", they hang out in southern oak-pine woods just like those around my yard.
The book says their song is "robin-like", and that's a good description. I hear them usually late afternoons sounding just like the book describes, adding to their repertoire just before turning in for the night a low, rapid, descending "chicky-tucky-tuck".
Next on my "I love to listen to 'em" list is the orchard oriole. I hear their melodious whistles and flute-like notes high in the pines and sweet gums around the yard but spotting these brick-red and black songsters is not easy. However on my morning walk down the road, I pass a recently-cut hay meadow with a marshy corner left uncut. Almost every day, there's a pair of these beautiful birds balancing on tall weeds or perching on the pasture fence. Similar to the summer tanager, the female is attired with a greenish-yellow breast.
I've saved my favorite until last, the wood thrush. I started hearing these birds several years ago around the yard, especially at dawn and dusk. They don't visit every year; I don't recall hearing one last spring. The song comes straight out of the portals of Glory. "Birds of North America" describes the song as "a series of loud flute-like phrases, each followed by a softer guttural trill", but that really doesn't do justice.
Late yesterday afternoon, there were two creating a duet; one at each end of the woods outside the yard. I sat outside drinking it all in until mosquitoes began buzzing and the thrush's folded up and put away their sheet music for the day.
These birds with an olive-rust colored back and light tan breast covered with round breast spots, are hard to see. The fact they're out making their music under low light conditions while perching motionless somewhere back in the brush making spotting one a rarity. That doesn't matter since I'd much rather hear one than see one anyhow.
One thing is spot-one sure; if you're confined to home recovering from an event such as the one I'm experiencing, sitting quietly and listening to the little creatures the Good Lord sent can do wonders for the healing process.
Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.