As the morning sun makes it way to the top of my mountain the surrounding forest is alive with the chatter of birds. If I close my eyes and concentrate on it I can filter out the individuals even if I can’t see them. One of those voices stands out really strong. I can tell that he’s somewhere near the top of my box elder but I can’t find him with my eyes. That’s not really surprising because he’s only the size of an extra large hen’s egg. For a moment his call is an alarm call until I mimic his previous pattern with whistles. I’ve always paid attention to the little birds in my area but it’s only recently that I’ve began to actively feed them and try to draw them in closer. I have had food out for them since fall but they seemed to reject it until the past few weeks. I stepped over to the feeder and made sure that the seed had not gotten wet and clogged up the reservoir catching any seed that fell out in my cupped hand at depositing it back on top of the feeder. I gave a few random whistles and stepped away. Almost as soon as I did I heard the rapid beating of tiny wings as they fluttered by behind me. As I turned he actually came in a little closer and lit in the Alder next to my driveway. He flew back and forth between the feeder and the Alder several times looking right at me as he did. I realized that this was a statement of gratitude and he was actively associating my presence with the food he was enjoying.
Since then I’ve learned that Chickadees actually have a complex language and that they actually have to teach these language skills to their young. It’s also known that as humans we can’t really pick up on the subtleties of their complex calls. Sure. I can mimic the high low patterns and approximate the rhythms but I can’t do it precisely and the context of the meaning is lost on me. So I’ve downloaded some guides and samples of the Chickadee songs and hope to at least learn which calls mean danger, happy, love etc. And perhaps soon I can call them in close enough for a detailed portrait. For now I’ll just settle for the occasional game of peekaboo in my Alder tree.
Image Titled Black Capped Chickadee 22520b
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