Singing Lessons

By , July 13, 2010

Last year at about this time, we began asking each other who had been trying to imitate the local songbirds. We each had heard rather poorly executed bird calls around the homestead, but no one had been making any attempts. We soon realized that our yards were full of small, chubby, clumsy birds. The fledglings had left the nests, and were trying to make their way in the world. This included learning their native songs, a process that, from the sound of it, requires practice!Their efforts are almost like “the real thing,” but slightly off the mark. It’s rather comical, as the noises they’re making really do sound like a human trying (and failing) to imitate the adult birds. We’d learned a while ago that songbirds need to relearn their own songs each year, so I guess it makes sense that the fledglings would have to work at the task a bit their first year. It’s very entertaining to watch one of these little fuzzballs make its ungainly way to a perch, puff out its little chest, and deliver an off-key concert!

This year we have one fledgling that’s been more awkward than most. We haven’t yet identified it, as it resembles several of our local songbirds. I think it’s a baby varied thrush, but haven’t confirmed it yet.

It may just be a gangly youth, or it might have an injured or malformed foot. Something seems to give it more than the usual young bird clumsiness. It is also very brave (or foolish) almost seeming “tame.” It allows us to approach so closely that we’re often startled when it flutters out from under our feet. Recently I looked down to discover it so close that when I squatted down it was within easy reach. It continued to feed, undisturbed by my proximity until I stood up again, then it fluttered a yard or two off and settled once more.

We’re tempted to scoop it up and “protect” it, but it is, of course, a wild animal. Healthy or injured, nature will take its course, and we will not interfere. Forgive us, though, if we indulge ourselves a bit by enjoying its company while it lasts!

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