The dawn chorus

Published 10:13 am Thursday, October 20, 2022

Each year, as the lightest tinge of green is seen filigreed across the tops of trees, proclaiming the end of the long, winter months, my favorite thing in the world is to be awakened by the dawn chorus of bird song that continues as I walk to the barn and serenades me through all the early morning chores.


It’s something to look forward to each year, like the profusion of roses in May and Wrestlemania.

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Now that we’re firmly ensconced in autumn, there is another chorus that has let itself be known as the leaves, which have muffled the song, have begun to fall in earnest from the trees.


To the left, through a dense thicket of woods and at the other end of our narrow, rural road lives a donkey on a small farm who brays nonstop as soon as I step outside. Perhaps it’s to greet the day or bawling his head off for breakfast, but I’ve never heard such a noise. Having had a donkey ourselves, we’re used to the sound, but our donkey brayed like every other donkey I’ve ever heard— a bass-tone Canadian goose. This donkey has an incredibly high-pitched, piercing call that sounds as if Edith Bunker was doing an impression. 


(Admit it: now you’re replaying the opening of ‘All in the Family’ and singing aloud to try it out)


“…Didn’t need no welfare state,”


“Everybody pulled their weight,”


Gee, our old La Salle ran great–”


Those were the days—Hee Hawwwwww!”


OK, maybe it’s just me, but it’s a really nasal donkey. 


Somewhere over the road is a pond and the geese honk like New York cab drivers as they approach in their V formation from behind our barn. Not to be outdone, two roosters living at each end of the road, a quarter mile apart, seem determined to outrank each other beginning at 6 a.m. The one to the right gives a fine, strong crow, whereas the one to the left (possibly influenced by the donkey) sounds rather anemic and squawky. 


Probably a smoker.


Our own dogs, out for quick ‘business,’ having had their own breakfast, bark incessantly at a branch that has fallen from a tree halfway across the field. And cawing from the top of the poplar halfway up the driveway, an ‘attempted murder’ of crows let it be known that a hawk has been spotted emerging from the tree line into the sunlight, gaining height. Intruder! Battle stations! 


It’s not particularly melodious, this gathering of various critters. In fact, they’re as off-key as the Mayberry choir when Barney Fife takes part. But it’s not really about that. It’s about the exuberant rejoicing of a new day.


And in that they have abundance.