Sunday, April 24, 2011
Birds on the Move
It seems like every day now, I hear different birds calls from the fruit trees and berry bushes in the yard before I get up. I can often spot a new bird or two as I leave for work. The draft of northward migration is moving and the birds migrate through Southern California, stopping to snatch a few good mouthfuls as they pass through the neighborhood. My sister Jean gave me a bird book with bird calls embedded in it, so if I have time, I can page through and try to figure out who I listened to at early morning call. The calls are often particularly from males and stimulated by a spring burst of testosterone, but that general picture gets a lot more complicated when biologists study individual types of birds. My old friend Luis Baptista, sadly now deceased, used to say birds sing such beautiful songs because their balls hurt them due to excessive testosterone in spring. I can't really believe the songs are produced out of pain, though. They seem to be joie de vivre in some cases, look-at-me calls in others. The idea of King Solomon's Ring, which was supposed to make the birds and animals' vocalizations meaningful to the ring's wearer, has always attracted me. I would love to be "in" on the meanings of these sounds. But for today, just seeing a poised indigo bunting in the yard, sporting feathers of intense turquoise blue, was enough.