As gardeners, we are always focused on the visual: we watch for new flowers opening or new vegetables ripening; we watch for insects or diseases; we try to determine if a branch dying back is just a natural occurrence or something more sinister.
But how often do we pay attention to what we hear in the garden? Sure, occasionally we may notice a particular bird singing if it’s loud enough or close by (or if it’s the dawn chorus in early spring which causes such a commotion it’s loud enough to wake most people).
If we’re working nearby an ornamental grass clump in a breeze we might notice that the fronds of grass are rustling in the breeze.
Or if we’re working in a shady garden, as I often do, we might have the same experience when there’s a breeze, of listening to the leaves of different trees moving in the wind.
But how often are we truly able to sit and just listen to what’s happening in nature? For me it’s almost never!
I took a little time to do just that on July 4th–an unexpected middle of the week holiday. And the explosion of bird calls was astonishing even to me, who, I thought, was generally attuned to this sort of thing!
I first noticed two robins having a “cheer-io” calling contest back and forth across my yard. Then I noticed a third, more angry robin doing a sort of indignant “cheep” from somewhere else–I am guessing it was from the roof of the porch right above where I was sitting.
There was a male cardinal singing its heart out.
And two juvenile red tail hawks. They don’t quite caw. They sort of screech. It almost sounds like sea gulls.
I heard blue jays, a cat bird, a nuthatch and a house wren as well–and those were just the bird sounds!
Next time you’re in the garden, take time to listen as well as look. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.