Early Morning Birdsongs and Calls

In the gray light of early morning, well before sunrise, a Carolina Wren greeted the day with a burst of musical song – a sunny jubilee-jubilee-jubilee, answered by a long, ringing trill from another Carolina Wren. An Eastern Towhee called a colorful chur-whee, and a White-throated Sparrow whistled its haunting Oh sweet Canada.

The morning air drifting in through an open bedroom window felt cool and damp, but not at all cold. Outside, a light fog shrouded the ground. A soft patter of what sounded like rain was not rain, but showers of small dry leaves from water oak trees that fell in the slightest breeze. A Hermit Thrush called a soft, liquid chup, from branches right outside the window – one of the sweetest and most welcome sounds of the morning.

Then Northern Cardinals began to peep, several White-throated Sparrows called tseeet and began to rustle and scratch in dry leaves on the ground. A Brown Thrasher called a sharp tschack! There were the distant caws of American Crows, the chuck-chuck of a Red-bellied Woodpecker in the woods, and the gray, intense, lisping song of an Eastern Phoebe, followed by the sudden bright rattle of a Belted Kingfisher flying over the house toward the creek.

Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice began to chatter, a Downy Woodpecker whinnied, and a Dark-eyed Junco gave a soft, muffled, jingling call. A Ruby-crowned Kinglet stuttered its dry jidit-jidit-jidit in some shrubs, and a Golden-crowned Kinglet called a high, thin ti-ti-ti from high in the trees. Blue Jays cried from somewhere down the street. In the last few minutes before sunrise – a sunrise likely to be hidden in gray clouds and fog – a Pileated Woodpecker moving through trees on the edge of the woods clucked in its traveling cuk-cuk-cuk-cuk.

So even on this last day of November, foggy, gray and cool, an early morning still begins with a musical tribute to the dawn and the calls of neighbor to neighbor, making the rounds and checking in.

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