2002.07.17 Waking with the birds

Written by David Green.

BY DAVID GREEN

Friday, July 5, approximately 5:30 a.m. Half asleep in a tent in the back yard of my sister’s cottage. Suddenly I’m torn awake by the sound of a bird overhead.

It catches me by surprise. It’s a mourning dove. One loud and nearby call and then nothing more. That’s it. The first bird of the morning.

Does this sound right to the rest of you early risers who awaken easily to the sound of birds at daybreak? A mourning dove?

Doves have such a distinctive call. A plaintive cooing that seemed so familiar and yet a little strange that morning. Ever since the infamous 5-9 Day of 2000, when our back yard spruce went down in the storm, we haven’t had a dove family in the yard. I guess it’s been a long time since I’ve heard one up close.

It’s the male that gives the characteristic mourning call. He was probably just defending his territory, and I certainly wasn’t challenging it.

A dove fact: Unlike other birds who take a little water and tilt back their heads to drink, the dove can sip it up through the beak. It leaves its bill right in the water while it drinks.

Approximately 5:35 a.m. Now the robins come alive. This is what I’m accustomed to hearing early in the morning. Robins have a very characteristic morning voice—actually about the same as their late evening voice. It’s much different from the usual daytime talking. It’s not really a song as much as a lot of short, quick, musical notes.

On the mornings when I wake up early and am unable to get back to sleep, that first robin lets me know that I’m going to be tired later in the day. It tells me: “It’s too late now. Morning is here, it’s getting light.”

A robin fact: The female is the nest builder. She makes a cup-shaped nest that has an outer foundation of long grass, twigs, paper and feathers woven together. The inner bowl of the nest is lined with mud and smeared with her breast. Later, softer material is added to cushion the eggs.

Probably about 5:50 a.m. Now the remainder have joined in. It’s all the little guys, sparrows, I suppose. It’s getting louder out there now. There’s no more sleeping with all of that going on.

It sounds as though there are dozens in the area. I’m assuming they’re house sparrows, which aren’t really sparrows at all. They’re weaver finches. They get pretty aggressive when they’re protecting their territory, and that means they get pretty noisy, which they’re doing as I lay in the tent.

Sparrow fact: These birds are everywhere, but only for last 120 years. A classic case of human intervention gone awry, the house sparrow was introduced to this country in 1851 when a hundred birds were released in Brooklyn, NY.

Approximately 6:15 a.m. If I thought it was loud before, I was mistaken. There are a lot of blue jays living in that neighborhood and they’re all having a morning brawl in the pine trees near the tent.

They might seem like bullies, but there’s a lot to like about a jay. The color is stunning, the variety of calls is most entertaining, and they’re just a lot of fun to watch.

A blue jay fact: Blue jays are good at imitating the call of a hawk. They often give it when a hawk is circling overhead.

Those are morning stories and there’s room for one from the evening.

May 1971, Leelanau Peninsula. A quiet pine woods at dusk, back from the shore of Lake Michigan. A bird calls. It almost sounds electric. It’s a hermit thrush.  It’s simply one of the most amazing sounds to hear in an evening woods. There’s nothing else like it.

Summer is only half over. There’s still time for vacationing, still time to wake up somewhere in a tent. When you’re out there, don’t forget to listen to the birds. They have some very interesting things to say.

    – July 17, 2002
  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.pokemon
    LATEST CRAZE—David Cortes (left) and Ty Kruse, along with Jerred Heselschwerdt (standing), consult their smartphones while engaging in the game of Pokémon Go. The virtual scavenger hunt comes to life when players are in the vicinity of gyms, such as Stair District Library, and PokéStops such as the fire station across the street. The boys had spent time Monday morning searching for Pokémon at Wakefield Park.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016