Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sounds of spring

The transition from winter to spring around here is a sputtering business -- a few steps forward, a few steps back, with a few steps sideways thrown in for good measure. You know spring has truly arrived, however, when suddenly the world gets loud.

Especially at dawn and dusk, opening the door presents a wall of sound. Peepers trilling at the ponds, accompanied by quacking frogs. (Yes, it's a quacking sound -- I keep thinking they're a flock of distant ducks.) The mallard ducks arrive with a splash and announce themselves with a real quacking, almost a honking, which in fact is made by Canada geese flying overhead. Wood ducks make a little stifled scream.

Meanwhile, robins are singing, sparrows are chittering, chickadees are dee-deeing and peeping, nuthatches are beeping, woodpeckers are drumming. The woodcock first peents in the underbrush then hurls himself into the air for a whistling spiral in hopes of attracting a mate.

Phoebes call their own name in a raspy voice while tree swallows squabble. Mourning doves emit their haunting cry, seeming almost owl-like until you hear the barred and great horned owls hoot in measured patterns. Crows caw, ravens squawk, hawks kree, blue jays blare. And always, underneath it all, the water roars.

It's a muffled roar of the hills emptying themselves of almost daily rain and the last of winter's snow, galloping down through well-established channels and into full ponds and rivers. Eventually these channels dry out, refilling briefly after summer downpours. We're a long way from that still, though the promise of the next season lies in the first thunderstorms flaring and booming during the night.

It's a happy cacaphony I look forward to all year long.

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