My Warbled Mind

As I sat on my screened in porch one morning I heard the varied songs of my feathered friends. When I heard one near me, I attempted to imitate his message in an effort to be friendly. He replied and then I mimicked his sounds again. Back and forth we went. Suddenly I begin to think about the consequences of this mimicry.

The Warbled Thoughts Begin (The Bobwhite)

It all started when I was a kid, with a bobwhite, a form of quail. I was out in the country at my grandfather’s farm and heard the song, “Bob Bob White.” (or so it sounded to me.)  Since it sounded so easy to reply, I did. Even with my poor imitation: “Bob Bob White!” I was instantly surprised to hear the echo coming back from that country bird. And back and forth we went. I was surprised at the bird’s tenacity in responding. Finally, I gave up, having other things to do and left him probably wondering, “What a rude bird to lead me on and then stop!”

Now that I am older I whistle back at some birds that have a one note sound and actually get a reply, or are they just humoring or ignoring me. Of course I have no interpreter so I don’t know if they know that only a mortal is answering them instead of a virile male or gorgeous female bird.

There are two pairs, I think, of such birds called Towhees who live near me. I never saw one until last year. But they have a perfect example of this kind of song. I can whistle very much like they “whistle-tweet.”

All of the birds, squirrels and occasional rabbits take their fill of the seeds. They all love the bird seed I put out in front of our porch so Norie, my cat, can daydream about catching one but is prohibited from doing so by the screen.

What are my poor imitations telling those poor birds? What if the warbler is looking for a mate and my whistles are telling him that he’s a real loser of a bird? What if I am making male bird sounds back to a male bird? Is he feeling challenged for his territory? What is he thinking?

A Baby Blue Jay

Baby Blue Jay
Baby Blue Jay

What if…..?

Worse still, what if I am telling some male bird, ” Come on over Big Boy!? ” So he flies around looking for a gorgeous, feathered female, and he only  sees a lumpy, featherless, pale, huge human? What if he is so lovesick and disappointed that he attacks his reflection in a window somewhere and commits bird suicide from frustration. I would be sad if, inadvertently my inaccurate warbling or whistling, caused his desperation and sadness.  

Potential Dangers of Mimicked Warbling (The Hawk)

A Hawk standing on the side of the road.
A Hawk standing on the side of the road.

I actually rescued a hawk once. It was an amazing experience. 

It is a good thing that I sit in a screened in porch. What if I was toying with the likes of a hawk, making love songs of a tasty sparrow and that hawk was very hungry?? Wouldn’t he be pretty angry or frustrated that there is no food where the bird sounds were being emitted from? He might be pretty frustrated that I led him on with my tasty and sweet sounding chirps.

Sea Gulls

And what about sea gulls at the beach? I would never try to imitate the sounds they make. I could accidentally summon them to think there was a huge cache of food waiting for them. Boy that could be a problem if there were as many as there are in the next picture. Besides you know what gulls do when they fly over you sometimes after eating. It’s not very nice!

Thousands of seagulls in Holly Springs, NC

I took this picture of thousands of sea gulls who migrated to Wake County in Holly Springs, NC. I was on my way home after working night shift and saw this sight reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds”! 

The Cardinal

The cardinal, also known as the redbird is the state bird of North Carolina, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia. The female, as does many other female birds, has a less brighter color, a yellowish brown.

Male Cardinal
A male cardinal

The House Finch

Another bird which shares the male cardinal’s red color is the male house finch. The male sports the rosy red color, while his mate has a much less distinctive coloring, a grayish brown.   

Red house finch on hanging planter
Red house finch on hanging planter.

Here is the song of a house finch:

The Eastern Towhee

One bird I just discovered is the Eastern Towhee. I kept looking at what I thought was a robin but had white on it’s wings and body. The Towhee male has several calls. I can imitate one and weakly another, because it sounds like a short whistle starting low and rising up and rising through five notes higher. But it can warble a little too, which I failed miserably at.

Of course actually none of my bird calls would ever be mistaken for the real thing; so there is really not a problem for me. But there are professional bird callers who can tweet with the best tweeters. I wonder what they say or if they know what they are saying to the birds.

If you are interested in learning which bird is which and which one is calling, you can upload a free app on your phone named: “BirdNet.” You can record a bird’s call; then move cursors to “select” the segment you want to analyze. Press analyze and wait. You can “submit” what you recorded and see a picture of the bird with information about them! You can opt to save what you captured too.

Birds add so much beauty and interest to our lives. Take time to look for them, listen to them, watch them as they interact. And feed them wild bird seed when you can. Enjoy your world when you can.

26 thoughts on “My Warbled Mind

  1. I missed this post before, it’s quite intriguing! I can’t whistle myself so I haven’t tried this, but I’ve heard people say they have whistled to mockingbirds and the birds then imitate them. And also that some black birds and crows will imitate sounds, like for instance, a phone ringing. So, there are indeed lots of questions here as to what kind of harmonies or disruptions might occur to bird communications!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have never tried to mimic a bird song. There is a mockingbird that mimics me when I whistle for my dog. The first time I heard the bird whistle my dog heard it too and looked to see where I was and if I was wanting him to come in. He figured out it wasn’t me whistling for him and now ignores the bird when he whistles. The bird never gives up whistling though…it is funny. The bird also sometimes meows like a cat and does it well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow!! How funny!! I have heart that they could imitate certain sounds but never a human whistle or a cat!! You should do a blog post on that! Thanks for sharing your nifty experiences with me here.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to Nisthur Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.