Friday, May 19, 2006

In the Spring a Young Bird's Fancy Lightly Turns
to Thoughts of Species Propagation

So far I haven't been able to get a picture of the mysterious birds because they absolutely do not stand still or even slow down, except when they disappear under the eaves next door, then suddenly reappear en masse, swooping down in one big movement. As I write, it's 6:30 a.m. here and the birds are back. I'm watching them and looking up birds for the San Diego area. So far, based on pictures I've seen online, as well as songbird files I've listened to, I suspect we have a flock of cliff swallows.

Just the same, I've also got the phone number for the San Diego Audubon Society and will be calling them around 9:00. The woman who answered the phone at the police department yesterday (I was calling for Animal Control [for information -- not to get rid of the birds] and the calls go through the same person) said she thought they sounded like parrots, but I don't believe that's right.

The sound is really something, especially in the early morning hours (the birds have been back several times since yesterday, the latest being their reappearance around 5:30 a.m. today) when everything else is quiet. The fast, constant buzzing/chittering and chirping is punctuated by the occasional mourning dove cry. In fact, the doves are scattered on the power lines, just kind of noting all the hullabaloo below. This amuses me.

As I've mentioned before, I live literally yards from a lake/reservoir, with a large field/easement directly next door (at the end of summer we'll see prisoners cutting down dry brush there) and a lot of birds come through on a year-round basis. We have the usual crows, sparrows, mockingbirds and mourning doves (which I think of as "wakey birds" because I hear them cry outside my window in the wee hours of my insomnia), as well as ducks, geese, coots, pelicans, swans, hawks and turkey vultures. And that's just naming a few.

We also have plenty of mice, squirrels, rabbits and snakes (and fish in the lake) to keep the predatory birds busy and well fed. At night, I can occasionally hear cicadas (?), and the rest of the insect population is surely kept on their toes (toes?) by the critters who snack on them.

Seriously, the birds are still buzzing and chirping, and it's been about 75 minutes so far. It's amazing. I guess I might not think it so amazing if they were nesting/mating under the eaves of my building. In fact, the man across the way just came out and yelled at the birds, stomped his feet, and sprayed them with the hose. Either he's just annoyed, or he knows (?) they'll set up shop for a long time if they're not discouraged...?

If it's the noise that's the issue, the irony is that this man constantly works on his cars with noisy equipment in his garage, and also rides a loud motorcycle with his radio turned up full volume, and never bothers to shut off the radio when he pulls into our complex and lets the engine idle while he fiddles with his gear. So, um, I can see why he's bothered by the sounds of birds. Ahem.

Of course, I do recall being exasperated with a mockingbird at 4:30 a.m. when I lived with my son's dad, and tossing and turning so much that he finally went outside and tried to discourage it with the hose. ;^)

Now the swallows (?) have dispersed for the time being, and all I can hear are the doves and mockingbirds. Oh, wait, they're back.

Things are getting interesting.