Birdsong in Oysterville

Apr 21, 2011 | 5 comments

     On Tuesday, I was the only Walking Woman of Oysterville, my cohorts busy with other things that needed doing.  The sun was shining as I started out, and the village was totally quiet.  Except for the birds!  They cheeped and chirruped and called out to each other – or maybe to no one in particular.
     When there are three of us chattering magpies walking of a morning, we seldom hear birds.  Either we intimidate them into silence by our own yickety-yak, or we are so busy listening to ourselves that we hear not a trill from the avian community.  I love walking with the companionship of friends but, truth to tell, it was lovely to listen to the birdsong of Oysterville that morning.
     First, I heard an owl.  I didn’t recognize him from his voice but there was no question about his general identity.  He wasn’t a barn owl or a saw-whet owl; I know their calls.  This fellow sounded a bit like a dog and, since our down-the-road neighbor-Kyle had recently sent me a photo of a spotted owl on his deck, I looked online later and found a site where I could hear one. Yep!  He was the one I had heard.  No doubt about it.  Very cool!
     Next came a big, fat robin.  She looked so cheerful with her brick red breast and bright yellow bill!  This saucy lady was sitting right in my path and wouldn’t budge an inch until I got so close I could have scooped her up and put her in my mail bag.  Cheeky sort!
     About the time I thought I might have to veer around her, along came a huge V formation of honking geese.  I stopped for a few seconds to watch their northward progress and when I looked down once more, Ms. Robin Red Breast was gone.  And so was the sun.  In fact, it started to pour.
     I doubled my pace and continued toward the post office, even though two different neighbors offered me refuge from the deluge.  It would be the morning I had decided to go around the cannery loop twice.  It wasn’t that I was concerned about a soaking, but I had worked hard for a couple of days on the ORF Annual Letters in my pouch and I couldn’t bear the thought of starting over on that project!  So I re-doubled my stride.  Besides, no reason to dawdle.  The birds had gone absolutely silent.
     I was almost home again when the sun burst forth once more.  And here came the swallows and sparrows and juncos and who-knows-what-other-little birds, all swooping and soaring or prancing and strutting, and all cheeping and trilling and twittering.  So busy!  So talkative!
     The chickens were calling me, adding to the general cacophony, so I let them out to free range and join in the joyful noise-making.  Then I headed inside for dry clothes and a little peace and quiet! 


  1. Carolyn Cruso

    Fun! QUite a cincert. I’m hearing all kinds of birdsong I’m not used to here in Minnsota.

  2. Andrew Emlen

    Sydney, I think that may be a Barred Owl – hard to tell for sure with its back to us. They’re more likely to be talking during the day and to be out in the open, and since they’ve arrived here several years ago they’ve become far more common than Spotted Owl. They also can sound like a dog. Thanks for the bird post.

    • sydney

      Thanks, Andrew! I’ll pass the word along to Kyle and see if he has any photos of the owl from the front.

    • Rosemary Hickman

      Andrew, Sydney is correct. It is a spotted owl. The “barking dog” call is a dead give away. The barred owl’s call is more like “who-cooks-for-you” according to my trusty “Birds of North America”.

  3. Cate Gable

    Nice post. One of the first things I noticed when I landed on the Big Island (Hawaii) for my first job out of grad school was that all the bird songs were different.


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