Thursday, April 14, 2005

I set out into the forest behind the house yesterday to do some sketching of the sword fern fiddleheads and came upon a winter wren hopping about around a patch of salal. I "pished," which is where you make all kinds of squeaky sounds to attract the attention of a passerine, and the little bird hopped up to an exposed branch, stared me straight in the eye, and warbled the call I had been trying to identify for years every spring, the one common trilling birdsong that had stumped me.

And to boot, this little wren WHISPERED it, lightly, almost just for me. He (I assume it was a he) then dropped down into the thicket chipping and whistling as he went about his work of presumably collecting nest materials. I stood watching him for about a half an hour, lifting my attention once and a while to engage with a couple of fawns passing through and a pilleated woodpecker who was working on an old nurse log a few meters away.

So finally...face to face with a singing winter wren. For me, these songs are the true call of spring, just as the spiralling trill of the Swainson Thrush marks summer and the low croak of ravens mixed with the weak wheeze of flocking chickadees fills the foggy days of winter. Each season has a sound tag that seeps into one's awareness leading one to unconsciously remove layers of clothes, switch from rain hats to ball caps, move from Gore-tex to wool. Bringing these markers to one's awareness brings us closer with the changes and more in line with the ways in which we are held by this little island.