The Three Sopranos

The willow tree is full of leaves again and spring is fast turning into summer. This week, walking has been limited to before seven in the morning, as the heat of the day arrives soon after. Ocean and river swims are starting to beckon instead.

With the unfolding of the spring season comes new birth though. My favourite bird around here, as previously mentioned in the article Birds and Bulls on my blog, is a particular Willy-Wagtail. And while in Aboriginal folklore, the bird is considered a stealer of secrets, I trust this one and do enjoy our friendship immensely.

Her nest this season was built on a railing in the carport, with the van receiving a dollop of bird droppings daily for a short time. But patience was warranted and rewarded well when three little heads peered out over the top a couple of weeks ago.

Their growth from this moment was phenomenal. Two days after their heads reached the top of the nest, they were struggling to fit in there and were standing on each other. The following evening, when sunset is always enjoyed on the verandah, all three were on a railing near their nest, but no longer in it. It was too dark under there to take a photo. But I stood and marvelled at them in delight. It was their first outing from the nest and I was there to see it.

Grabbing a camera the following morning, I was surprised to not even have to go the carport. All three were on the fence in front of the cottage. Their first day of flying had happened and like a proud mother, I stood and watched them in joy.

Since them I have watched them in the trees down near the creek. But they also hang around the verandah a decent amount too. As their mother trusts me, they have learned to do the same.

Willy Wagtails have two sounds. One is like talking. It sort of sounds like ch-ch-ch. The other is singing. It uses the talking when threatening other birds. They are highly territorial and will harass birds much bigger than themselves, like kookaburras for example. But they also use it when talking to each other at times.

Then there is their song. Without drawing notation it sort of goes, one, two three-four, five, with the three and four like a half note. The notes ascend to three, and then descend. I was just sitting here whistling the sound in order to describe it. But one of them has come to the fence to help and is now singing it for me instead, much better. In fact, there are many more notes than five in the run. But that’s as many as I can explain in order to copy their song in a whistle.

For the first week and a half, the babes didn’t sing. They would fly along in front of me when I walked, but with no singing. Then a couple of days ago it happened. I heard them sing.

I was delighted to see that they enjoyed their vocal discovery as much as I did, so much that they couldn’t stop singing once they started. Hearing one of the babes start its singing at 3.30am the following morning, even beating the kookaburras who are always the earliest risers, only brought a smile to my face in the midst of sleep. Its solitary song of joy rang out through the night, accompanied only by frogs who were busy singing their own delightful songs by the creek.

This morning the whole family of Willy Wagtails came to visit. They blessed the cottage and its surrounds with an orchestra of perfect harmonies, as they sang and sang. It was joyous.

There are three new singers in the world now and that is definitely a joyous thing, three more songs to be heard, three more singers adding to the world’s existing chorus.

It’s like having my own version of The Three Tenors, though they’re definitely not tenors. I should call them The Three Sopranos. Yes, very fitting, The Three Sopranos and Their Fluffy Feathers.

Unless you are blessed with being able to live in nature almost completely, you may not even know that some of the birds you hear are singing for the very first time in their lives. But every bird has to have a first song.

So if it’s spring in your world, do consider you may be hearing an absolutely brand new tune. Or when spring comes around in your country, do keep it in mind. Many of the birds that look like all of the others of their breed, may in fact only be a few weeks old and are breaking into their very first song ever.

Whatever songs they’re singing to you though will be joyous.

So along with The Three Sopranos and Their Fluffy Feathers, I thank you for visiting today and wish you good luck with your Willy-Wagtail whistling.

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