The Birds Are Talking

Spring is in the air. Literally. The crisp, cold silence of frigid winter mornings has been replaced by the murmurs of awakening wildlife. The sounds of spring mornings are slipping into the winter landscape. Snow crunches underfoot and visible, chilled breath still leads the way as I venture out for the daily newspaper, but the environment has changed.

A few days ago a woodpecker tapped insistently in the elderly pine tree above my head. The beetle larvae must be stirring and he was seeking a tasty, nutritious breakfast. My presence didn’t deter his staccato beat. I paused in an effort to see where he was and tried unsuccessfully to recall hearing a woodpecker so active so early in the year.

Yesterday a chirping conversation floated through the crisp breeze. Two, maybe three, birds were sharing their locations or diets or political views with their friends and relatives in the neighborhood. The chilly start to the day didn’t seem to affect their enthusiasm.

This morning muffled avian conversations drifted through the closed windows. The same birds, different birds, I don’t know; I’m still working on improving my visual identification and verbal cues aren’t in my repertoire yet. But it’s been months since I heard birds singing while I was still in bed.

The wild world is waking up and the vibrant sounds and sights are heralding spring. Forget the groundhog’s shadow, this is credible evidence that winter is waning. It may be a few weeks or more until I see my first Robin, a sure sign of spring, but I’m encouraged by the sounds around me.

As partial preparation for the explosion of life to come, I’m focusing on the birds. My wife and I checked out a few books on birdhouses from the library. We’ve dabbled in birdhouses before and she painted a few to brighten the yard last year, never expecting that any bird would ever move in.

My wife's project last year

Both of us were quite surprised when a late-season storm blew the house out of the tree it rested in. We weren’t surprised by the storm, but rather by the contents of the house after it broke open upon impact with the ground. Hair, twigs, and yarn filled the space. It had been occupied.

The broken house filled by a nest

This year we’ll welcome the birds with new homes all around our property. There’s a lot more to birdhouses than buying a basic model at the craft store. Size of the structure, size of the hole, and location of house vary by species. I’ll write more about that soon. We thought we had a little time to prepare, but based on the awakening morning cacophony the birds will be looking for new homes soon.

This is exciting. Many gardeners strive for expressive sights in their gardens. The textures and colors and shapes of plants. Shifting some of the focus to sound opens up a whole new way of enjoying a garden space. Learning to bring the voices of animals into the landscape allows another of our remarkable senses to enjoy our world.

We’re lucky that we have a neighborhood that encourages the natural expression of birds. Through our efforts we hope to bring some of them a little closer to us so we can share in their communication. It begins with an awareness that they are there and that they have a voice.

It’s sunny and warm today with snow and cold forecast for tomorrow. It will be some time before all of the current snow drifts have melted, especially with more flakes to come. The birds don’t seem to be concerned by that so I won’t be either. They’ve told me that spring is on the way.

They have more experience than me when it comes to seasonal preparation and expectation. The word is out in bird society that it’s time to wake up and welcome spring. I’m listening.


2 responses to this post.

  1. I loved this! I’m getting busy on a few bird projects as well! Have fun in the garden.


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