A new dawn

With the start of the new school year, I’ve been getting my day started even earlier.  It’s very peaceful to be out on the streets before 6am, but not as interesting from the bird perspective.  The first part of the run involves crickets and cicadas, though they’re much quieter in the morning.  I’ve had a couple of jumps while running in the dark and hearing one start up on the road in front of me- that’ll get your heart racing and wake you up pretty fast.  Anyway, both today and last week, I noticed something about the birds:  the American Robins were the first ones that I saw moving around.  Even in the dark, the robins were on the grass poking around for food.  The robins, however, were not the first sign of activity.  The towhees keep winning that award.  I don’t see them, but each morning that I’ve been out, I hear the ‘ch-wink’ or ‘tow-heeee’ call while it’s still quite dark out.

As the sun was beginning to peep through the sky towards the end of my run, I heard the ‘pik’ calls of some Northern Cardinals out there, but they were still a good 20 minutes behind the first towhees.  Now, though, I’m curious.  Since I noticed this pattern, I want to find out how much of a pattern it really is.  I’ll be keeping track over the next few weeks.  I’m also curious to know what other people notice.  If you happen to be one of those crazies (like me) who is up and moving around outside in the dark of the morning, before sunrise, let me know what the first bird you hear is.  If you happen to say, “mockingbird” I’ll count it only if you can say that it wasn’t just one that sang through the entire night.

And yes, this post is the first one where there’s no citation.  It’s more of a contest (without prizes).



About thomasbiology

I'm an Associate Professor of Biology at Queens University of Charlotte with a background in animal behavior with an emphasis in bird song. I've got two secret goals with this blog (well, since I'm sharing them, they're not so secret): 1. To encourage people to look at the natural world around them- not just as a hiking destination, but to notice all the little things moving around them all the time; and 2. To show some of the science that relates to these little things moving around. There's some really fascinating research out there that so few people get to see.
This entry was posted in birds, cardinals, communication, sparrows, vocalizations. Bookmark the permalink.

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