Early Birds

House Wren

My morning list has grown to 30 species, and I’m sure I’m missing some. In early April, the first birds to arrive were the House Wrens. it’s the song of the House Wren that stps me in my tracks and gladdens my heart. The House Wren is a little brown bird with a short tail and full, loud voice that belies its diminutive size. The wren is a little tyrant – aggressively claiming territory with its persistent singing. Wrens are cavity nesters, using holes in trees or in the nest boxes we put up to attract bluebirds. They will fill the cavities with twigs just to block the entrance from other birds; they will invade a nest and puncture any eggs that may have been laid by another bird; they will evict birds that have set up housekeeping by harassing them until they leave. Still, their complex, bubbling song and their determination to propagate their own species makes them one of my favorite birds. Yellow Warblers, which arrive a bit later seem to me to be gentle birds. They are a little larger than the wrens, and are bright yellow with faint reddish streaking on their breasts. They too, sing with a big voice – sweet sweet sweet, you are so sweet – but even with their big voices they are remarkably difficult to locate in the trees flitting about as they do. Often there are two of them calling to each other from different trees, keeping me scanning with my binoculars in all directions, trying to zero in on their locations.

One of the weird blessings of this pandemic is that has granted us the time to slow down, time to reflect on what our priorities have been and perhaps, what they should be. My time at home has give me more time to paint and to write. It has also enabled me to make my morning walks longer – to tarry more, observe more, appreciate more of the still-cool morning air and, most importantly, to greet the spring’s migrant birds. I really only walk in the morning, binoculars around my neck, to say hello to the birds along the South Platte River. 

The other early arriver is the Audubon’s Warbler. They generally arrive in small flocks and decorate the bare shrubs with their black and white and yellow plumage. Their song is similar to a Yellow Warbler’s, but is missing one note, saying instead: tea tea, put the kettle on.

These little feathered creatures that enrich our lives with color and songs, often go unnoticed as we all go about our lives. But we would be so much poorer without them.

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