Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Carolina Wren’s Morning Song

Each morning for the past several days, a Carolina Wren has begun the day by singing from a perch on the top of a plant hanger just outside our kitchen window. I hear its song first thing as I wake up, and later, it sings as we make breakfast and eat and read the paper and do the early morning chores.

A small, audacious cinnamon-brown wren with an upturned tail and a pale stripe over the eye, he sings a rich three-syllable song that sounds cheerful and bright and full of energy, and is answered in a loud purring buzz by a female Carolina Wren near by, and by another male in the distance repeating the same pattern of his song.

On the other side of the deck, Pine Siskins crowd the finch feeder in perpetual motion, and their chirps and zhreeeee calls make background music, along with the quurrrr of a Red-bellied Woodpecker and the loose, musical trill of a Pine Warbler in the woods.

In Donald Kroodsma’s book, The Singing Life of Birds,* he captures the stirring quality of a Carolina Wren’s early morning song perfectly, in a description of an hour before sunrise in Florida’s Corkscrew Swamp:

“I’m early, perhaps half an hour early, but I didn’t want to chance missing them. I need to just stand here, too, silently, listening, smelling, absorbing all that these wrens experience during these waking minutes. . . . . LIB-er-ty! LIB-er-ty! LIB-er-ty! LIB! There’s the first wren of the morning, a hundred yards to the east, a single song, a bold phrase repeated three and a half times on what must be the next territory over. The emphatic, powerful waves of his song radiate out, to be heard by all, everyone put on notice. Every leaf, twig, and trunk, every being within a quarter mile reverberates with each LIB-er-ty!, rousing every molecule and bone in my body, too.”

* Donald Kroodsma, The Singing Life of Birds, 2005, pages 346-347.


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