“Nature does nothing in vain…”
Aristotle

It’s happening right outside our homes. The only question is: are we listening?

The other day it was warm enough for me to sit outside for my morning quiet time. The symphony was simply amazing. Of course we cannot always stop and listen, since we often have other things we need to attend to. But sometimes we should just stop and listen.

Because they’re singing for us. They really are.

From what I’ve read, and noticed, each of the birds ignores the calls of all other species. They hear them, but they’re not listening to them. Their calls are for others of their own species: either to invite or delight the other sex, or to warn and repel competitors of the same sex.

And there I sit in the midst of the great overlapping chorus. Cardinals, Baltimore orioles, orchard orioles, house wrens, tree swallows, bluebirds, red-headed woodpeckers, robins, mockingbirds, American goldfinches, wild turkeys and the list goes on. Where do I fit in?

I am convinced they are singing for me too, even if they don’t know it. One of the most remarkable aspects of the natural world is the inter-weaving of ends. In simply going about being what they are, the countless species of living things are also serving one another, working together in a coordinated fashion that is simply breath-taking. As surely as the blooming of flowers serves not only the plants themselves but also the bees that harvest nectar, the singing of birds should serve us too.

So what should it do for us? That is perhaps like asking what listening to Bach should do for us.

Much. And the only way to find out is to start doing it; patiently, regularly.

Nature does nothing in vain. But it is in our hands, to some real extent, to assure that the song of birds will not have been in vain, by learning to listen to them.

~ ~ ~

FOR THIS WEEK: Here are a couple of birds to listen and look for. When I walked out my back door this morning these are the first two songs I heard: the Cardinal and the Mockingbird.
Take just a few minutes to listen to their songs here. You really will start to be able to recognize them in your yard, especially this time of year in the morning!

Northern Cardinal, whose image is above; go to this Audubon site and down towards the bottom on the right side they have “Songs and Calls” where you can click and listen to various versions of their calls. I recommend listening to Songs #1-4 (all very brief); together they give you a good sense of what to listen for.

Northern Mockingbird, whose image is below; go to this Audubon site and again down towards the bottom on the right side are “Songs and Calls.” While the Mockingbird is famous for imitating other birds’ calls, it also has a very distinctive song of its own, which you can easily learn to recognize. There is a mockingbird that sings in the parking lot all the time now at Christendom College where I teach; he greets faculty/staff/students/visitors–anyone who will look up and listen.

mockingbird

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