For the Birds

For the birds essay and art by Mo Conlan

It is Saturday morning and a god-awful racket wakens me at 5 a.m. It is the birds and they are right outside the window – no; they are on the bedpost right outside my ear.

Singing, squawking, rat-a-tat-tatting, chirping, whistling, chattering, twittering, fluidly fluting loudly, insistently, unceasingly. Low sounds, like bullfrogs; high-pitched trills approaching the decibel range of a dog whistle.

It’s like a loud, bad symphony of contemporary music -- the kind that conductors may foist on an unwilling audience –just the classics, thank you, except for that one from “Nixon in China,” “The Chairman Dances.”

Then I think, wait, maybe this bird noise is actually a conversation. One bird is an ad man – with a cheery musical sales pitch he repeats again and again.

Chirpitty, chirp, chirp, chirppetty chirp. Chirp.

Another -- whom I picture as a world-weary Jewish scholar -- sends back a one note reply.


Chirpitty, chirp, chirp, chirppetty chirp. Chirp.


A rich, round, oboe-like note distinguishes itself in the din. Could it be an owl? Are they up at this hour? Why are any of them up at this hour? Are they looking for mates? I thought they would already be hooked up for the season by now.

It’s possible they are making all this noise for the sheer joy of it. I am anthropomorphizing like crazy. But, hold on. What makes me think that humans are the only creatures to express joy? Though tiny of body, they sing out big.

I get up and go down to the side porch. The geese waddle into view on the lawn outside the window and start up a stereophonic honking that sets my teeth on edge.

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