Morning Sounds

Morning sounds like the low hoots of two great horned owls bring me to my senses as the sun begins to rise.  The sounds of warbling painted buntings can be heard from several portions of the yard.  Blue jays squawk, a hummingbird chatters as it visits firebush flowers and then flies off to pick tiny insects from the pineland privet flowers out front.

The calls of several male cardinals cascade from their scattered perches across our yard and the wooded lot next door. Catbirds hide in the marlberry where they feed on its tasty black berries and give an occasional mew like call. Of course the mockingbirds add their two cents worth with a mishmash of repeated calls. Like hollow bamboo sticks rubbed on a wooden fence, the red bellied woodpecker’s call creates the feel of a haunted forest.

The pileated woodpecker is still within the large nest hole that she has excavated in a dead pine. Soon she will emerge and cackle loudly while flying off to dig out grubs in other dead pines. Several warblers are about, yet the blue gray gnat catcher is the most extroverted and often comes close if you make a phish, phish, phish, phish, phish sound. To finish off the mix, a pair of wood ducks whistles from on top of their nest box. Within a few hours after hatching next month the chicks will drop to the ground and make a mad dash with mom to the neighbor’s pond. A hawk may be watching.

Although it seems strange, a cardinal is building her nest six feet from the house in a prickly nickerbean vine.  Our presence seems to scare off predators like hawks and definitely scares off feral cats which are a serious danger to fledglings.  Even though feeders are used, the natural abundance of seeds, insects and fruit feed migrating birds and keep some of them in our yard all winter.  Unfortunately, our winter resident birds will be heading north in May leaving a few residents like cardinals and blue jays to entertain us until fall.

Although the feeders come inside during the summer, we always have a bird bath with a quarter inch tubing connected to it coming from a timer mounted to an outdoor faucet. This comes on for an hour each day and only needs to slowly drip in order to attract birds.

A yard planted with a variety of native plants may be the only place for many acres where birds can find the food, water and cover that they need. You will be surprised by the number and variety of birds that come, making an early morning walk around the yard very exciting.