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Birding Focus: Interesting stories of our feathered friends.

Eastern Meadowlark
© George H. Harrison

Northern Cardinal
© George H. Harrison

Dawn Chorus

Do yourself a favor and take an early morning walk in the woods. The dawn chorus of bird songs is well worth the effort.

At no other time of the year is the cacophony of bird songs stronger, nor more delightful, than during June, nearly everywhere throughout the continent.

Birds sing for at least two reasons. Mostly males, though in a few species females as well, sing their best to defend territories, announcing in birdspeak, "this is my breeding territory, stay away." They also use their songs to attract and keep mates, who, upon hearing the singing, are reassured and bonded to the vocalist.

Not all birds sing with music. Woodpeckers, for example, hammer on tree trunks and house siding to resonate a drumming noise that serves the same purpose as the most beautiful thrush’s caroling.

Herons and egrets squawk and croak, rails grunt, bitterns pump, gulls mew and laugh, turkeys gobble, grouse drum, quail whistle, owls hoot, hawks scream, crows caw, doves coo, hummingbirds squeak, kingfishers rattle, juncos trill, wrens bubble and gurgle, cranes bugle and ducks quack...all are instruments in Nature’s great orchestra. Everyone has their favorite bird song. Some love the trumpeting of the Sandhill Crane, others the call of the Common Loon. Mine is the cathedral-like caroling of a Hermit Thrush, pealing from an evergreen forest in the mountains of Maine and West Virginia.

Regardless of your favorite, you can enjoy the exquisite sounds of the common birds around your home, The mix is an ethereal chorus of the most heavenly songs.

-- George H. Harrison