It's not your imagination. Vocal activity among the birds is probably at its peak. At least the volume is. Step outside to continue battling the well-watered weeds and bird sounds come from every direction. It's a challenge to identify all these different voices. Goldfinches and their many songs and calls are everywhere. Their variety of tunes are sometimes difficult to sort out. "Is that another goldfinch calling or has someone new arrived?"
Black-headed grosbeaks, house finches, towhees, juncos, robins, starlings, chickadees, nuthatches and red crossbills are singing and calling throughout our yard and those of the neighbors. Crows, jays, white-crowned sparrows, flickers and song sparrows can even be heard calling from more distant locations.
Why is it so noisy right now? Have you ever walked into a room full of kids (or adults) where everyone was talking at once? That’s what is happening. Many of the birds have their youngsters out of the nest and both are constantly calling about something. The kids are yelling for food or to locate their parents. The parents are calling out scold notes, telling their young what to do and what not to do.
We were taking a break and shaking off the dirt after planting two new trees several feet from where the birdbath is located. It was one of those rare days when the sun was shining and the birds were gathering near the bath. A family of red crossbills was part of the action and one of the youngsters was like a kid in a wading pool. He was drinking and bathing and ignoring the fact that I was about a foot away and watching. That’s when crossbill voices in the tree started making a new sound. The young bird froze and the look on its face told you what was in his thoughts. “What am I doing wrong?” His parents were scolding and telling him about a threat – me. He remained motionless for several more seconds and then dove into the bushes.
Bushtit babies, chickadees and nuthatches can be curious about us as we clean the birdbaths and fill the feeders but often show little fear until a watchful parent sounds an alarm note. Some of the noise generated by these smaller birds is their squabbling among themselves. Young chickadees resent sharing a feeder with a bunch of bushtits. Nuthatches raise their crown feathers at both. All three seem to think the others are encroaching on territory each considers theirs.
Along with the goldfinches, the house finches are one of the most vocal groups in the yard. They have large families and their young could be described as somewhat overactive. They are constantly calling, complaining, exclaiming while tumbling all over their parents. They want to be fed and they want to see the world.
While much of this vocal activity is being generated by young birds and their protective parents, other birds are part of these sounds. Birds that nest later are singing to attract mates and establish territories. Put all of this together and it explains the avian cacophony being heard throughout the Northwest. It’s part of Nature’s music
Write to Joan Carson, PO Box 217, Poulsbo, WA 98370. Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. (or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)