For the birds

My daughter bought me the set of cd’s "Birding by Ear." 

I took a field ornithology class about 30 years ago at the Terra Alta Biological Station of West Virginia University.  A group of students walked (or waded) behind an older, charismatic wildlife professor.  When he heard a song that he was going to teach us he would waggle his index finger like he was scolding a tree top until the bird stopped singing.  When the song began so did the wagging finger.  He would then tell us about the bird, its habits and its habitat.  I loved both the class and professor Wiley.

30 years later I get a job where my office is beside a lake with a trail around it.  I hear bird songs I once knew but have now forgotten.  My wonderful daughter fills the void with a great Christmas present.  Now, I listen to the cd as I drive to work.

Yesterday was my first walk around the lake after the holidays.  Even in the dead of winter, I was impressed by the number of bird songs and calls I could hear.  I learned from the cd that there is a Carolina Chickadee whose song is different from the Black-capped Chickadee with whom I was familiar in my youth.   On my first day out I heard the former’s song and knew the difference!

I also heard a Wood Peewee and in trying to spy him out discovered a Tufted Titmouse!  Needless to say, my walk was much enriched.  (Although my lap time was greatly reduced!)

Thanks Mary!

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1 Response to For the birds

  1. avatar Roger Pence says:

    I too fondly remember those early morning bird walks around Terra Alta Lake in Preston County, WV. The wag of Professor Wylie’s fingers would often give us a hint on the bird song we were listening too and we took advantage of that during testing. “One finger for the Robin, two for the Scarlet Tananger and three for the Rose-breasted Grossbeak”. Professor Wylie was an inspirong and engaging teacher. He touched many of us in his Ornithology and Natural Resources of West Virginia classes at WVU. Thanks for the Memory. Roger.

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