Friday, July 07, 2006


Originally uploaded by tardigrade.
I grew up listening to Mocking birds all night long in the summer.... sometimes winters, too. These birds are part of Southern California. When I lived in Ohio there weren't any. It was lonesome! There where Cardinals and Chickadees, and such, which I loved, but they didn't sing to me at night when I worked into the wee morning hours.

While working at Duke University, people said South Carolina had them. I hunted for them, but the one bird I did hear just did not have the same vocalizations as California birds.

Usually, in summer when it was hot, the crickets would whir in the evening and then slow to a chirp in the cooler morning hours. That was when the lonely male Mocking birds would call for a mate.

When I was a child I used to listen to them to fall asleep. I use to try to listen for the different birds they would imitate. Some Mocking birds would take their time going through their repertoire. Others would speed from one song to the next. I hear them now, mimicking pet parakeets and once .... I heard one calling like the Rails I hear in the summer mornings in the Salicornia of Mugu Lagoon.

When I was young and the world was about to blow up from this bad country or that bad leader, I used to think that if things DID go wrong and bombs blew much of our world away the Mocking bird would have fewer birds from which to learn songs. Maybe, the Mocking birds would have to try to remember songs from each other - I thought that they would very quickly forget and their songs would deteriorate into squeaks and bangs and whirrs that came from people.... or maybe they would just go silent.

Silent Spring had been printed and was quite famous when I thought of these things. I was too young to have read the book - well, reading wasn't on my plate until after HIgh School - but, the fear of loosing of birds and bugs and furry animals and plants were. Actually, after working with thousands of children, I find that that is something that little kids DO worry about besides the loss of their parents. WHo wants to grow up in a barren world of nothing but people.... UGH!

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