Saturday, November 21, 2009

Survival is Silent

The garden is quiet now. I can't tell you what day it was exactly that the birds quit singing, but they did. It's nothing more ominous than the approach of winter that has driven them away to warmer parts of the world. Gone are the bluebirds, kildeer, thrushes and wrens. The remaining birds are not singing. Survival is the mode now, not breeding. Survival is silent.

On warmish evenings, even as late as earlier this week, I would hear the occasional field bird--perhaps a horned lark?--twittering as it settled for the night. I might even hear a weak chirp of a cricket from the pile of foundation rocks where the barn used to be. Now they are silent, too. One more insect generation is gone, with the future buried in the sand and clay, waiting for the return of warmer days.

Our property is slowly evolving, an oasis springing out of flat farmland. As our trees gain maturity they will attract different kinds of birds, winter birds. These are the birds you might hear in the woods as they flit about looking for food: chickadee, cardinal, tufted titmouse, nuthatch, woodpecker. So far we don't have these, but one year we will. I listen all winter. December, January, February and March will all pass in profound silence. Then one day in April or May there will be the most magical song on the air. It might be the trill of a song sparrow. It might be the tinkling notes of the horned lark. Another winter will be done.

Note: The above photos of the horned lark, black capped chickadee, and cardinal are used with permission from the most awesome Ohio nature web site,


  1. Hi Julena~~ What beautiful words. Survival is Silent. Priceless musing. You've got a gift.

  2. Very lovely photos!The only birds I'm hearing up here in NB are the raucous crows and the shrieking bluejays. And sometimes the bizarre noises made by the ravens.I always look forward so much to the return of the spring songbirds. Their music always takes me back to my childhood, laying in the warm grass with closed eyes just absorbing the beautiful songs all around me.

  3. It is far too quiet in the garden come fall and winter. I miss the birds singing, but I especially miss the flowers and butterflies.