poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘bird calls

morning birdcalls – Northern Parula

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After a hot day, a cool night. This morning, our windows are wide open and a Northern Parula is busy in our grey woods.


His distinctive call – ‘whirrrr-zip’ – has an upward lilt at the end. I can catch only a glimpse of him, certainly not long enough for a photograph.


The Northern Parula is a small warbler with a bright orangy-yellow upper breast. He builds his nests of Old Man’s Beard lichen (Usnea spp.) – there is lots of this lichen hanging from the trees in our grey woods, so of course he is here!  This is a watercolour I did of him last year.



Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

May 20, 2017 at 9:25 am

nest of the Eastern Phoebe

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This time of year, I hear a wheezy call in our maple tree.  The Eastern Phoebe has arrived, to build a nest under the eaves of our shed.


The Phoebe makes an appearance in the book I am writing – ‘Crossing at a Walk’.  I have just reached Draft #5 of the writing, a time when I edit for adverbs, sentence length, repeated phrases and so on.  I also work to clarify the plot and the story, making certain my characters are true to their missions in the book.  At this stage, the editing is a bit of a blur.


Here is an excerpt from the book.  The Eastern Phoebe has come to check out the Whisper Wind Writers’ Retreat (the setting for my story). Tom will encounter three Phoebe’s in the book: the shrill ‘fee-bee’ song of the Chickadee in spring, the Eastern Phoebe with its nasal ‘phee-bee’, and the name ‘Phoebe’ carved in the covered bridge …


 I am in our garage, cutting leaves from a sheet of copper for a new wind sculpture. I glimpse a quick flutter outside the window and hear knocking in the eaves.

I put the tin snips down on the workbench and step outside to investigate. At one corner of the garage, up under the edges of the roof, is the nest of a bird, constructed within the last few days.

As I lean to get a better look, the mighty construction worker flies out and swoops up to the height of one of our birch trees.  It tilts its black head and says, in two raspy, out-of-tune syllables, ‘phee-bee’.  The sound is nasal and cheerless, quite different from the bright ‘fee-bee’ of the chickadee in spring. 

An Eastern Phoebe! A charming grey bird with a puffed black hairdo and a dirty white throat. The phoebe sits in the tree and wags his tail. He says, again, ‘phee-bee.’

Every morning in June he wakes me.

‘What on earth is that annoying bird song?’ says sleepy Sadie.

‘You could hardly call it a song,’ I answer.


For more about the three Phoebes, see my post for May 4, 2015 ‘spring orchestra – fee-bee’.



the nest of the Eastern Phoebe – notice this Phoebe has found a few strands of tinsel from our Christmas tree to decorate his home!


Copyright 2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 27, 2015 at 7:43 am

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