I harbour a secret ambition. I would love to hear a nightingale singing at night. In the meantime, I make do with the slightly poignant calls of our resident Willie wagtail. He calls in spring throughout the night. He is awake all night singing to let the local females know that he’s around. At night this tiny bird can be heard clearly unlike in the daylight hours when the many other noises and bird calls take over.
I was awake in the wee hours hearing the Willie wagtail’s song until it was drowned out by a jolly, pre-dawn chorus of kookaburras. Then the roosters chimed in. As I live in a rural area we are allowed to keep roosters in our backyard flocks and they like to make themselves heard.
I only have a bantam rooster, but he can hold his own amongst the more rowdy crowers in the neighbourhood. I enjoy hearing the birds in the early morning though – even the roosters. Somehow, what would be awful if you were hearing it in a suburban setting, is not too disturbing in the countryside.
Another distinctive morning sound is the harsh call of the satin bowerbird. These are very cautious birds but the males in particular have a loud rasping call. Females (or perhaps they’re immature males – they have the same drab brown-green feathering of the females) visit our back verandah looking for food. I don’t often see the male but I did spot him this morning on a neighbour’s verandah feeding out of the dogs’ feed bowls. The dogs were still asleep in their baskets nearby oblivious of the early morning raider (or may be they were playing possum).
With that voice it is fortunate bowerbirds don’t call to attract mates. Instead they use display to get their girls. The satiny black male I spotted this morning has a bower – bent over arches of dry grass – and a very good collection of blue plastic in a patch of bush just beside our lane way. When I stopped to take this photo the local noisy miners set up a racket no doubt a warning that I was around.
The noisy miners are also nesting and they flock together in a noisy mass to send off the crows that flap past on a lazy reconnaissance checking out their nests for a potential snack.
But even the noisy miners are overwhelmed by the raucous, almost manic calls of the plovers. They’ve hatched two tiny fluffy black chicks up on the roof of the lean-to on our shed. Somehow the chicks have made it to ground level and the parents have gone into protective overdrive. They are dive-bombing us and anyone else who comes anywhere near the shed. Hopefully they’ll move off soon as they are fearsome in full flight.
Luckily for our sanity plants don’t make loud calls to stake their territory or to attract mates – although some researchers are recording sounds sent out by plants perhaps warning others of pests. By and large though plants are subtle in their methods of attracting pollinators (rather than mates) luring them with scent, colour or a meal of tasty nectar. Imagine the cacophony if flowers sang like birds!