Thursday, May 02, 2013

The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Birdsong

Scarlet Tanager

In the last 24 hours, I have been inundated with beautiful bird songs! We decided to join the Beckham Bird Club's trip to Mammoth Cave, and it was truly worthwhile.

Summer Tanager
Since I sometimes find it difficult to actually see the birds way over my head (such as most of today), I try to learn a few more songs/calls every Spring, and last night it paid off! I'd never actually seen a Summer Tanager until last summer, when a Beckham friend helped me find one. Arriving at the Park yesterday, I drove to the Visitor's Center to locate our meeting point for early this morning. Just outside the Center, I heard a distinct "picky-tucky-tuck," recognized it as the Summer Tanager, and tracked it into a nearby tree. Fortunately, he perched on some bare branches at the top and was easily visible. I was so excited!!!  So this morning when we joined the group, I was ready for bear, so to speak.

Indigo Bunting
Sometimes I think my birding friends must have had surgery to enhance their senses. One birder has telescopic vision, and sees things I can't find with binoculars, while one on today's trip has enhanced hearing. Superman has nothing on this guy! Not only does he hear birds on the next hillside, he knows all their songs and calls! It's great to go birding with him because you learn so much. At least, I learn it for the period we are together. I don't know if I'll remember it that well after I've slept for the night. I hope I learned songs for the Ovenbird, Louisiana Water Thrush, and Prairie Warbler today.  Maybe I need to apply for a memory upgrade.

Red-eyed Vireo
Until I got into birding seriously, I'd never even heard of a vireo, and now find that there are many species of vireos in the woods, the most common being the Red-eyed Vireo. When I first heard this bird on the CD, I gasped aloud. I remember hearing it (and the Wood Thrush) in the woods where I attended day-camp as a Brownie! They say that aromas and sounds evoke memories you forgot you even had.

Louisiana Water Thrush
In the Smokes last week, we heard and saw the Louisiana Water Thrush, but I never got close enough for a photo, so it was a real thrill today to photograph one for the first time. "Are they thrushes or warblers?" I asked innocently. "It's a warbler." "Then why do they call it a thrush?"  In fact, some day I'll have to really study up on all the birds similar to this one - there must be at least half a dozen. We saw some Cerulean Warblers, a lifer for me, and I asked if they were really blue. All I could see was a grey looking belly with a little necklace. How are you supposed to see their blue backs when they are always directly overhead? Ouch! My neck hurts!

Common Yellowthroat
Some birders object to using a recording of the bird's song to bring it in closer. I am so glad we have a resource like this. Otherwise I would very rarely get to see any of these birds! Don't worry about the birds. They are all smart enough to know that you shouldn't reveal yourself when reconnoitering the enemy position, and even though closer, they still tend to stay safely in the leaves. There are many birds I saw a glimpse of today, with no chance at all of getting a photo. Darn it!

Eastern Bluebird
Yes, learning new songs for new birds is an accomplishment, but my heart sings too just to hear the familiar songs of my old friends when I go for a walk! I don't understand why everyone else doesn't as well!

Oh, and thank you Blogger for updating your software. It's about time we can select multiple photos to upload at one time, and get little red squiggles for misspelled words. Hooray!


Anonymous said...

well done

Anonymous said...