An Auditory Detour

I heard a woodpecker somewhere in those trees

The hawks were yelling at me. I don’t think I stumbled upon a quarrelsome moment amongst the raptors; I’m fairly certain they were aiming their shouts my way. And I’m pretty sure they were telling me to “Go away.”

It all began when I went out early one morning, just after sunrise. Just a jaunt around the neighborhood, to get a bit of exercise.

Headed north on Marconi Drive, I strayed to see if I could get a better look at Popp Fountain and the Arbor Room. I’ve seen Popp Fountain before, it’s one of those City Park staples that’s been around since 1937. But I’ve yet to see the Arbor Room from the inside, it’s one of the newest event venues in City Park.

As I approached an oak tree near the fence line, I heard a very distinctive cry coming from its branches. Not a chirping, not a raven’s “caw,” but similar in cadence. Higher-pitched and not as caustic as a raven, and it finished with a bit of a whistle.

Looking for the source, I spied a large bird with a white speckled breast, maybe twenty feet dead ahead and twenty feet above. A hawk! I scrambled for my phone, but the best I was able to capture is the picture at the end of this post. The hawk took its squawking to a higher, less visible branch of the oak tree right after I took that photo.

But it got me thinking–so much of what I love about meandering through City Park are the sounds.

So in the interest of “show, don’t tell,” here’s an attempt to “show in words” some sounds I noted on that same jaunt.

  • The haunting notes of a train horn, miles away
  • The staccato beats of a woodpecker across the lagoon
  • The caustic caws of a pair of ravens (yes, I realize I’m re-using that description)
  • The subversive trill of crickets below
  • The “ga-dunk” of cars passing overhead, as I traversed under the I-610 overpass (yes, this is a direct reference to my novel, The Incident Under the Overpass)

As I concluded my exercise loop, I returned to the hawk’s oak tree, to see if the bird of prey was still there, hoping to get a better photo, if so. And to conclude this post’s loop, I’ll go back to the beginning. Said hawk was still there…with reinforcements. And they were yelling at me. At least two birds aimed their plaintive cries my way. And by plaintive, I mean pretty wretched. My guess is they were protecting a nest, and didn’t want curious bi-peds (or predatory quadrupeds, for that matter) lollygagging around.

I got the message.

Natural camouflage, indeed

 

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