Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring 32: When Alarm Clocks Fail

6:20am-7:00am, random woods abutting Comfort Inn, Brunswick, ME
partially cloudy, cool

I have a theory that, when an alarm clock fails, it's for a good reason.

Usually (the theory goes), we are tired and need the sleep, and our subconscious tricks us into setting the clock for PM instead of AM, or with the volume down, or with the switch pointed at "set" instead of "on".

Today, in addition to needing the sleep, I think the Universe intended that I should emerge from my hotel at exactly the moment when today's bird was in full song. His incredible and unearthly song drew me across the parking lot, over some train tracks, and into a stand of woods.

I regret that I have already used the descriptor "intergalactic"in this blog, because today's birds really made me feel like I was a space traveler. Maybe I can call it extra-terrestrial?

Something about the call - its crystal-clear timbre, its apparent echoing of itself, its crazy high range - made me imagine a UFO homing device, or a perhaps an alien lure, hypnotically calling its Earthling-prey closer and closer.

The song was so continuous and loud that I also wondered if it might be a recording set out by bird-watchers or bird-hunters.

I'm certain the bird is utilizing its syrinx, or double voice-box. Check out how the parts of his song overlap:

Eventually, with baby-step approaches to avoid scaring it away, I did sight the bird. It was very high up, a bit smaller than a robin. No binoculars on this trip, so I can't tell you more details - but it's always thrilling to see the bird that I've been tracking, even from a distance.

A little bit of research confirms that I heard my first THRUSH of spring - a HERMIT THRUSH. I am so excited! It confirms two points that my new birder-friend Alex Dunn had promised: 1) Thrushes have gorgeous, unpredictable songs; and 2) There are new birds almost every day now.

Spring is here!

I feel today like a faithful transcription of what I heard - the combination of hermit thrush and the neighboring chickadees, would make a great piece. Sometimes you can't improve on Mother Nature.

Here's an early effort at mimicking the hermit thrush:


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