A Song for APRIL 24

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Click the sonogram to hear and see the sound.

"Simply lovely" are the words that come to mind for the song of the Field Sparrow. Click the start button and close your eyes, listening past the mockingbird for the first song, then more mocker and a cardinal, then another sparrow song, and so on, Blue Jays chiming in at one point, all the way to the end. Imagine the little guy, sitting in a bush, his head thrown back, his pink bill opening and closing with every one of those crystalline notes. Then look how the initial tone of each song, as pure as the fee of a Black-capped Chickadee, transitions gradually into the nearly vertical peals at the end. Exquisite.

My mother has lived at The Pines at Davidson for a long time. Whenever I go to visit, I try to include a little time for recording, down in the floodplain of the Rocky River on the Davidson Greenway. A single Field Sparrow is usually there in spring and summer, singing as beautifully as this one. It's almost certainly a succession of birds, not just a single Methuselah. I do wonder how the succession takes place. More than likely each tenant keeps the territory as long as he lives, and then another discovers the vacancy and sets up camp. But this can't last forever. The kind of "old fields" these sparrows inhabit are transitional, and the Greenway area itself is changing. Sooner or later the sparrows' territory will be a woodland and Field Sparrows will sing there no more. Until, that is, the place is an old field again.

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