It's a cool Monday morning; its 6.am, not yet light, and, before the sound of traffic on the mighty I4 highway cranks up some decibels, I am listening to the gorgeous little mocking birds who have already been singing their tiny hearts out for at least half and hour. There is one in the tree outside my work room and one a few roof tops away and they are calling to each other. These tame little birds are everywhere perching on wires, in bushes and on fences accompanying your walk through the city streets.
Maybe they are not the prettiest birds to some eyes but, like the English nightingale, any shortcomings in the dress department are compensated for 10 fold by their song.
While I am working they are my constant companions along with the chattering squirrels, some little wrens and and the ubiquitous and raucous grackles.
Male grackles are big glossy showy birds. Like old fashioned, brylcream-slicked teddy-boys they strut about in local neighbourhood gangs, their brilliantly blue iridescent feathers shimming in the sun as though doused with oily petrol. I am not sure exactly which species crowd in the trees and shout at me in the afternoons as there are 3 different ones, but the noise they make is incredible.
Imagine an excruciating mix of rasping creaks, pops, and whistles, scrapings of nails down blackboards, polystyrene screeching and the wheezings of desperate asthmatics..I just don't know whether to rush out with my inhaler to administer relief or go and buy a shotgun.
I could not find a recording of the grackles that does justice to an up-close-and-personal musical encounter but the excellent Cornell "All about Birds" site has some snippets of sound with some images
Great tailed grackle here
Boat tailed grackle here
Common Grackle here
After that soothe your poor assaulted eardrums with some more mellifluous notes from the mocking bird here