It’s been a regular bird convention in our backyard today.
I just started reading Aldo Leopold’s book A Sand County Almanac, and one of the early chapters (July) makes me wonder what to expect this summer.
At 3:30 am, with as much dignity as I can muster of a July morning, I step from my cabin door bearing in either hand the emblems of my sovereignty, a coffee pot and notebook … I get out my watch, pour coffee, and lay notebook on knee. This is the cue for the proclamations to begin.
At 3:35 the nearest field sparrow avows, in a clear tenor chant, that he holds the jackpine copse north to the riverbank, and south to the old wagon track … the robin’s insistent caroling awakens the oriole … next the wren — the one who discovered the knot-hole in the eave of the cabin, explodes into song. Half a dozen other wrens give voice, and now all is bedlam. Grosbeaks, thrashers, yellow warblers, bluebirds, vireos, towhees, cardinals — all are at it … my ear can no longer filter out priorities. Besides, the pot is empty and the sun is about to rise.
My Nana was an avid birdwatcher, and my mother also feeds the birds so they congregate near her windows.
I’m much more familiar with the birds in the Zoology collection at the Field Museum in Chicago, where I worked for nearly a decade. I used to lead behind-the-scenes tours for donors, and the collections managers would simply leave specimens out for me to talk about if they couldn’t be there.
As fascinating a story as the birds in their mothballed drawers could tell, I’m coming late to realize that there’s a story coming down the wires live right now.