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Morning Chorus

Stern jay on a dying ailanthus branch.

The stern jay stood upon the highest point of the dying ailanthus, chirping once at uneven intervals. I don’t know how long it had been calling, but it continued for the ten minutes I had been sitting on the deck. At last, the pleas were answered and a conversation started. Another jay sang the response, with a trill from a bird at the front of the house thrown in as accent.

As I sat there quietly, intently listening, tuning out the traffic noise, I could hear a song by a fourth bird. Then the chorus was ready to begin! How can instruments ever compare? They can bend to our will, our time signatures, keys and tempo, but there’s nothing like the magic of a spontaneous symphony of birds. Even the woodpecker beats out the rhythm. A finch joins the jay in its tree, perhaps to get the pitch.

Do they know they are heard by woke humans? Do the other birds show sympathy for the bird that needs a mate or the mama bird that mourns the loss of her chicks? Or are they just exulting in the cool breeze on a sunny morning?