Wild Birdom


I’m expecting the ghost of Marlin Perkins to show up, standing in the open field, sharing his knowledge on the migratory path of Canadian geese.

For those of you who do not know Marlin Perkins, he was the host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom for 22 years, through 1985. This television show was Animal Planet before Animal Planet existed. Every week, Marlin would be holding a baby tiger, wrestling a snake, or discussing the reeducation of once-captive chimpanzees.

Yes, Marlin was quite the zoologist.

A little over a week ago, I published a post about Gibbs the cat and his fixation over the birds outside the windows of the apartment. Gibbs and his sister have been quite entertained, to say the least, by the Aves and Neornithes. I have found a very temporary solution to keep Gibbs from breaking through the screen of the window, but nothing to end the consistent stare and readied stance of the great gray hunter.

It’s no wonder, really. We are surrounded by a cageless aviary.

Case in point: This past Friday morning, Natasha and I were both awakened by the crow alarm. Caw, caw, caw! Two crows communicating with one another very early in the morning. Caw, caw, caw! Shut up, will you? Caw, caw, caw! Excuse me, but I am on vacation and trying to sleep. Caw, caw, caw! Grrrrr. Okay, okay, I’m up. Are you happy now? Silence. Dang crows. Oh never mind, I’ll pour a cup of coffee and watch Natasha make her green smoothie while Marlin tells us all about the crows.

Crows are members of a widely distributed genus of birds, Corvus, in the family Corvidae. Crows are believed to have evolved in central Asia and radiated out into North America, Africa, Europe and Australia. Corvus species are all black or black with little white or grey plumage. They are stout with strong bills and legs. There is limited sexual dimorphism

Okay Marlin (a/k/a Wikipedia), time to move on. This is a clean blog page.

Back to the cageless aviary and the call of the Sandhill Crane. Natasha and I hear the sound every day and Friday was no exception. When I first moved into my current digs, I thought Toucan Sam or a species of Amazonian jungle bird had escaped and was sitting in a tree, calling to their lost world. Close your eyes and take a listen. For those readers who have not heard this call, let me know what it sounds like, in your opinion.

I have seen Sandhill Cranes out in the fields, but had never heard their call this close or this often. Marlin Wikipedia, what does it sound like to you?

These cranes frequently give a loud trumpeting call that suggests a French-style “r” rolled in the throat, and they can be heard from a long distance. Mated pairs of cranes engage in “unison calling.” The cranes stand close together, calling in a synchronized and complex duet. The female makes two calls for every one from the male.

Trumpets? I think it sounds like the jungle. I wonder what the various robins, blue jays, sparrows, wrens, cardinals and other assorted birds from the surrounding trees think of the trumpets in the field. Or are they too busy to care, partaking instead in an evil harassment of Gibbs from outside the bedroom window? Natasha tells me, “Just wait. Wait until the geese start to migrate south.” Yes, we also have geese in the field across from our apartment. A flock of Canadians flew low between the buildings on Friday, a descent into their wayside, to join up with the trumpets.

That’s the sound of two geese. Natasha tells me that in the fall, there are hundreds of geese in the field. Natasha says the noise can be deafening.

Like most geese, the Canada goose is naturally migratory with the wintering range being most of the United States. The calls overhead from large groups of Canada geese flying in V-shaped formation signal the transitions into spring and autumn.

Oh shut up, Marlin Wikipedia. I know autumn is right around the bend. I know the geese will be here soon. They will come to the field to eat, poop and rest, and then be on their way to the Horicon Marsh to join their brothers and sisters in a journey to where I want to be in the middle of January.

For here and now, this is the torment of Gibbs and Ziva – the cageless aviary. This is the 5:30 am alarm clock. This is the shadow that dances off the bedroom window. This is the songbird musical. This is the jungle, the sounding trumpets, the honk of changing seasons.

This is Wild Birdom.

16 responses to Wild Birdom

  1. Dan Antion says:

    We get large flocks of geese flying over in the fall and they are very loud. Thanks for the memory job, I grew up watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

  2. nrhatch says:

    Wow! Those are rowdy birds! I’ve seen Sandhill Cranes around here but never heard them hootin’ and hollerin’ like that. that would be tough to sleep through.

    I loved Wild Kingdom ~ watched it every week as a kid. Thanks for fishing out the Marlin Perkins link for us. Great to see him after all these years.

  3. I’m reading “Marlin would be holding a baby tiger, wrestling a snake…” and looking at the picture of Marlin on the YouTube clip and thinking, ‘Nope. Doesn’t gel.” He looks like a retired accountant.

    Sounds noisy at your place. I had a similar wake up call from a couple of Currawongs, sitting on the edge of the planter that holds my blueberry bush, having a good old yack while they ate all my berries. Thanks, chaps.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I had to go look at a photo of a currawong. Somewhat similar to a crow, but with yellow eyes and maybe a longer beak. Regardless, it makes a noise!

      Don’t let Marlin’s looks fool you. An accountant he was not.

  4. M-R says:

    You appear to be living in Animal Kingdom now, M-J … Whoever would’ve thought ?!
    I have zero sympathy for your being awoken by the noisies out there at an early hour: it will never be earlier than that at which Lui Stringer wakes me, when there isn’t a sound outside. Little bastard. Big bastard, sorry.
    We are victims of our own weakness, are we not ?

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Ha! Gibbs had me up at 1:30 am one morning, for an hour, wanting attention. I was ready to throw him to the birds :-/

      • M-R says:

        Oh ! – I am APPALLED !!! He is worse than Lui Stringer !!!!!

  5. Lottie Nevin says:

    I’m laughing at Master of Something Yet’s comment – fabulous!!! Geese are noisy, I used to keep 8 of them and boy did they shriek and hiss – great guard dogs though 🙂 Thanks for introducing me to Marlin, even though he does look like ‘a retired accountant’ 😉

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