30 April 2009

Clash of the Song Titans

Last night as the sun was going down, but well before it was actually dark, our friendly neighborhood mockingbird made it abundantly clear that he had returned to said neighborhood. In fact, he was belting out the tunes and putting on quite a show at the edge of the garden. I happened to be within 40 feet of him, as I was taking pictures of the sunset, and got an earful. I love mockingbirds. I understand that some people don't care for them and all I can say about that is that there's no accounting for taste. Mockingbirds are the radio stations of the bird world. If you don't care for a certain song just wait a minute and a different song will start up. They are excellent indicators of which birds are in a particular area and they're just plain funny and entertaining. I was so glad to hear him singing.

While I was enjoying the sunset and mockingbird show suddenly a lone coyote started belting out the usual high, piercing, woman-screaming-with-a-knife-in-her-back call. What was unusual was the timing. Our local coyotes have never, to my knowledge, made such calls during the daytime. Granted, I did see an apparently pregnant female cross the highway just a couple hours after dawn the other day so maybe that's related. But it was still weird to hear a coyote call at that time of day. Usually I don't hear them until well after dark, sometimes not until well after midnight.

At any rate, the mockingbird and the coyote seemed to be aware of each other and gradually became even louder and more insistent. I'm not sure if the coyote could actually hear the mockingbird as it was likely too far away. But it was obvious the mockingbird could hear the coyote. And, wow, was the mockingbird miffed that his song was being interrupted. His singing got louder and even more energetic and I basked in the joy of the moment.

I've had other joyful bird sightings and hearings lately. Yesterday I saw a pair of scarlet tanagers which are a beautiful, brilliant red. They were flitting around the back yard and around the garden and, while the sighting was brief, I got a kick out of it. Our local bat has been sighted, but not yet by me, so I'm still looking forward to it. Some sparrows are building a nest in one of our birdhouse hanging from the garage and gradually all of our bird friends are returning. And, joy of joys, I heard a whip-poor-will yesterday just before dawn.

At our old house we had one who spent all night moving around our house. It was heavenly hearing him sing all night, every night all through the spring and summer months. We've only very occasionally heard a whip-poor-will around here and I've missed it terribly. I've been known to express pity for those who have never heard the song of the whip-poor-will and I had a thought about it while cruising YouTube. So, here ya go!

Here's hoping our local whip-poor-will sticks around! And here's hoping we all have a happy spring! (Or a happy autumn for those down under!)


Cygnus MacLlyr said...

The official State Bird of Texas...

Beautiful songs they mimmick, non?

Thanks, Liv!

Beverly said...

I absolutely love this story. You have such a wonderful way with words I almost felt like I was there listening to the songs of the coyote and mockingbird. I wish more people appreciated the beautiful music our fellow living creatures share with us.

Moonroot said...

Thanks for the example of what a whip-poor-will sounds like. We don't have them in the UK though I've seen them mentioned time and again in American books. Always wondered what they sounded like!

Livia Indica said...

Moonroot, I'm glad I could expand your bird call horizons!

Beverly, thanks, I'm blushing!!

Cygnus, I did not know that!

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

Nice to hear they've returned there... here, they never leave. But they sure are more vociferous long about now!

Happy Bealtaine, Liv!!!

Livia Indica said...

Cygnus, wow, I didn't know that. Happy Beltaine to you too!