Thursday, June 25, 2020

Oh, that's what a mourning dove sounds like

I've been thinking recently about my grandmother's vinyl records that featured nothing but bird songs. She had about a half-dozen of them, and would play them on the living room record player cabinet that was about the size of a refrigerator turned on its side. They were probably from the late 1960s through early 1980s. I don't remember the exact titles — we got rid of all them during the house cleanout — but they were surely like the ones pictured above, if not those exact ones.

The record formats were similar. A Very Serious Man's Voice would guide you through different bird calls and songs. So it would go something like this...

Man: The Hoary Puffleg...

Bird: Chit-chit-chit-chit.

Man: ... The Hoary Puffleg.

(The Hoary Puffleg is not actually native to North America and would not have been featured on my grandmother's records. But I didn't want to miss the opportunity to get "Hoary Puffleg" on Papergreat.)

We've been doing a lot of bird and wildlife watching during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has kept us in our homes and neighborhoods for 98% of our existence since mid-March. (And we've been documenting our observations in the "What I Know About Flower Arranging" blank book I mentioned in 2014.)

Our backyard has three bird feeders, a bird bath and a tiny picnic table for squirrels and chipmunks (and the occasional bluejay) to dine on peanuts and sunflower seeds mere inches away from the four cats. Our wildlife roster includes birds, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels and a pudgy field mouse. I make sure all the feeders are full at least once a day, sometimes twice, and the backyard has truly become a haven for all of this half-tame wildlife. Chipmunks scurried back and forth near my feet the other day as I was outside talking to Dad. The birds, especially one catbird, are slower to fly to safety each time I venture outside.

And I've been observing more of the wildlife interaction, too. The cardinal couples that are most inseparable. The bold robins. Birds the size of a salt shaker that dart in and out among larger animals with seemingly zero fear. Birds that aggressively knock seed out of the bird feeder and onto the ground below, because apparently they prefer it that way. Or they're just jerks of the bird kingdom. And doves. So many doves. I think those ground-feeding doves are getting the bulk of the food I put out, because they're always there.

But I didn't put 2 and 2 together. I recently found myself wondering about an especially common bird call I'd been hearing throughout the day. It must be some especially cool bird, I thought. It almost sounded like an owl. Nope, Joan informed me, it was just those silly doves. I guess I would have known that if I had listened more closely to my grandmother's records.

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