Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 48: Practice Volume

Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, MA, 6:40am-7:40am
drizzly, overcast, warmish

It was so rainy and dim outside I had a hard time pulling myself out of bed this morning. What was the point? Birds and sun would both be in hiding.

By the time I got out, the rain had dimmed into a light drizzle, and it was actually rather lovely. I am now convinced that "sky-blue" is not that insipid pastel color Crayola would have us believe, but the gorgeous hue of drizzly cloud-covered sky just before dawn.

It took a while to walk off my grogginess, but by the time I had made it to the ponds by the visitor center, I was feeling more lively.

Many vied for bird of the day (including Chickadees #2 and 3), but in the end I go with this fellow:

He was about robin-sized, soft-grey, with a white chest and throat. I was only a few yards away, and could see him clearly perched on top of a bush, yet could barely hear him. He was singing super-soft (pianissimo in music terms), and I kept blinking to make sure his throat and beak were moving to the calls (they were).

It was fascinating, and hard to convey through this recording, but it really sounded like he was practicing songs quietly to himself, at a volume that nobody else would notice. It reminded me of the first couple musicians onstage before an orchestra rehearsal, warming-up at quarter-volume because they are embarrassed to blast it while everyone else is listening.

I suspect he is a young mockingbird. And admittedly, I had the idea in the back of my head: I had read in the The Singing Life of Birds about young birds practicing their songs quietly in the bush. It's exciting to witness first-hand!

My turn to practice! Whistling, in my case.

Here's a sample clip from Today's Bird:

My version:


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