Adventures in Bird Language Tracking
Four letter bird-banding codes boggle my mind. This morning’s tracking club outing demonstrated the art of naming birds concisely as we tracked bird language from a hill overlooking the Rotary Forest at Guelph Lake. Early morning sunshine and warm winds from the South bathed the landscape as we each sat, observing and listening to bird calls, songs and alarms. The first of four 15 minute time periods commenced with a crow call. This was the busiest time period. Tree swallows chattered overhead, mouths agape, hungrily eating insects on the wing.
Field Sparrows (FISPs) announced their territories like the diminishing bounce of a ping pong ball. A Northern Flicker alarmed from the forest edge to the West. Could a bird of prey or a mammal have caused the alarm? We later tracked his flight path over each of our sit spots as we mapped the story from a birds-eye view. The next three time periods included watching a flock of 29 Blue Jays fly west to east across the top of the hill. A Red-Bellied Woodpecker churred regularly from the forest to the west, announcing his territorial claim. The toads trilled from the pond and Red-Winged Blackbirds perched along the shore. American Goldfinches sang their “potato chip” and “sweet, sweet, sweet” songs. American Robins chuckled. The sounds were overwhelming at times but also amazing to try to decipher. A coyote call signalled the end of the fourth time period and everyone reunited at the top of the hill. We mapped out the bird language as best as we could, reminding ourselves, like the territorial Savannah Sparrow to “Take, take ,take it eas-y” and enjoy the process.
The next Bird Language Tracking event is on Saturday June 13th at 7:30am in the Guelph Lake Nature Centre parking lot. Hope to see you there!