OK — What Is This Bird Saying?

Kate recorded this the other morning while walking The Dog in the neighborhood. The audio contains two distinct calls from one bird. When she got home, she said, “Listen to this — what do you think it sounds like it’s saying?”

I listened to Part 1, a two-syllable call, and I said, “[deleted to maintain suspense.]” Kate said, “Yes!”

I listened to Part 2, one syllable, and I said, “[DTMS].” Kate said that’s what she heard, too.

So you tell me, what is this bird saying?

Jade Plant


The under-appreciated Crassula ovata, jade plant, reportedly native to South Africa and ridiculously easy to grow in our mild dry climate. It tolerates lots of inattention. The highlight every year: in the late winter and early spring, it flowers. I usually think of the bloom as a modest thing–the flowers burst out of tiny buds about the size of a match-head and I don’t think the individual flowers are even half an inch in diameter. But there’s so much to all these little organisms when you stop and look up close.

Urban Mockingbird

There were three mockingbirds flying from tree to tree and from post to post in the neighborhood on the Spring-Ahead morning. I got out my audio recorder but they flew on before I got much. Then we went out for a walk with The Dog, and on the way back encountered another mockingbird setting up a determined racket along the old Santa Fe right-of-way. I say “racket,” but there are few bird sounds (I hesitate to say “songs”) I enjoy more, especially when you’re watching one of these birds jumping straight up and down atop a telephone pole or TV antenna (yes, there are still some of those around). The northern mockingbird is Mimus polyglottos; that is perfect — a polyglot mimic.

A few years ago, Kate discovered a poem, “Thus Spake the Mockingbird,” by Barbara Hamby (worth checking out that link). It captures the energy and life-force in the mockingbird’s song. It ends:

… Open your windows, slip on your castanets. I am the flamenco
in the heel of desire. I am the dancer. I am the choir. Hear my wild
    throat crowd the exploding sky. O I can make a noise.

By Way of Explanation

Anyone who has ever read this blog regularly — not a huge group, but one that I sort of know — have seen for awhile that the posts come less and less often (or do I mean more and more infrequently?). Part of the explanation won’t be surprising: Like just about everybody else in the world, I’ve been busy with other stuff.

Part of what I’ve been busy with, though, is another blog. About six months ago, I took over as the proprietor of a daily news blog for my public radio employer. On one hand, can you believe it? I’m getting paid to blog. On the other, I find myself at the keyboard and on the net for sometimes unhealthy amounts of time (when news has actually been happening, such as when we had transit strikes last summer and fall, the job has come dangerously close to being 24/7), a reality that sometimes leaves me feeling a little spent and brain-addled.

What that has meant for this personal blog, which I’ve kept at for more than 10 years, is that I’ve had less energy and attention for it. The time available to sit down and post something thoughtful (or even a nice picture) has grown shorter, and a lot of evenings I feel I need to have that time away from a keyboard and screen.

Among the handful of folks I know who have checked in here over the years are a few I know have been blogging on a daily or nearly daily basis for longer than I have. I know everyone who does that has a lot of stuff going on in their own lives — at work, at school, pursuing other interests or answering other obligations. I have seen the different strategies people have adopted to make the pursuit more manageable. If I wore a hat, it would be off to everyone who keeps on with their personal mission to communicate the news from their small corner of experience or their thoughts about the world beyond to people like me who, even if I can’t (or at any rate don’t) read every day still am fascinated and informed by what they say and suggest.

I’m not announcing the end of this blog or anything portentous like that. But I am just trying to figure out how to maintain some meaningful continuity for myself and for those who have stuck to this small adventure with me for so long.

More later.