Featuring NEW writer Lyndi Spears!
When I wake in the morning, it usually takes me a few moments to orient myself to the new day, and as I slowly begin to be conscious of my surroundings, it is the birdsong that beckons me to get out of my bed. The birds are oblivious. They have no idea that my family, my friends, in fact my species is facing a novel virus and being challenged each day to find creative responses to this pandemic. The birds are so happy that Spring is upon us and they are focused on doing what birds always do at this time of the year: finding a mate, building a nest, and raising a family.
Throughout the day I hear so many different songs. The soft crooning of the mourning doves; that low, comforting rumble in the background. The energetic chirping of western bluebirds as they dart from branch to branch, showing off their bright blue plumage. The industrious tapping of the northern flicker woodpeckers, boasting to their potential mates and the warbling of the gentle Gambel’s quails as they hurry around with their comical, forward-facing crests bobbing up and down. By late afternoon the ravens come around and announce arrogantly that they fear no-one and are truly the smartest birds on the block. Sometimes I wonder how it can be that, although our lives have changed so much and so quickly, the birds have not noticed… or have they?
Birds do not usually conjure up thoughts of strength, adaptability or resilience for me. I imagine how soft their feathers feel on my hand or how fragile their hollow bones are or how they seem to rely on my birdfeeder in the colder months for their very survival. However, COVID-19 has brought me new perspective. Because people around the world are staying home to reduce the spread of the virus, there is a significant reduction in traffic noise. As a result many of us have become aware of birdsong that we cannot usually hear. Ornithologists are discovering that several bird species have started adjusting their song now that there is quiet. Not only are we able to hear more birds but their songs have actually changed. Where they previously had adjusted to the increased noise of traffic and other human hustle and bustle in the cities by changing the pitch of their songs to be heard above the noise pollution, they have now adjusted the pitch again because they are no longer competing with the noise pollution.
I am inspired by how nonchalantly the birds have adjusted and adjusted again. It is almost as if they are able to identify what is most important, quickly figure out how to protect it, and then just go about their daily lives seamlessly.
For my species, it is not this simple. However, I sense a lesson from the birds: adjust your song to meet the current needs of your life to the best of your ability, keep your loved ones close, and display your resilience seamlessly, because therein lies your strength.
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