Morning Mind Ramble: why do birds sing?

“All there is to thinking is [hearing] something noticeable which makes you [hear] something you weren’t noticing which makes you [hear] something that isn’t even [audible].” Norman Maclean

I follow my mind around like a little animal. This morning was no exception.

The Professor and I wake up early – too early – around 4 am. This morning as I drank my coffee I realized I seldom take time to be still and closed my eyes to listen.

As if on cue, piercing the quiet, one very loud bird began singing at the top of his lungs. Why do birds sing, I wondered?

My dad had an inquiring mind like me. He groomed me to ask by always having an answer. Now that he’s gone, I usually turn to Google since the Professor just shrugs and says he doesn’t know. “Give me an answer, any answer,” I mutter back.

Google told me more than I asked for. The majority of hits talked about how birds actually sing most in the morning. Did you know that? I didn’t.

Most times the bird singing is a male advertising what a good chick feeder he is, staking out territory, and advertising for a mate. And did you know that they tend to sing most between spring and early summer?

“Professor!” I called into the kitchen. “Can I have another cup of coffee, please?” And then I lobbed the bait. “Do you know why birds sing?”

“To communicate?” Seriously.

I went back to thinking. The bird obviously wanted some attention. And that reminded me how when our daughter was little and I was distracted she’d hold my head between her little hands and insist forcefully, “Look at me. Pay attention to me.”

Like that bird, she was communicating a message that was deeper than a melody: She wasn’t discussing worms, but wanted me to hear: I’m lonely for you. You’re ignoring me. I need you.

When humans and animals have a message we want heard we make noise to get attention. To communicate. If that doesn’t work, we resort to touch. Sometimes gentle.

Close your eyes. Listen to what’s around you – your neighbor included – even if you think you already know what he’s saying (and don’t want to hear it).

When that early bird finds a ladybird who listens, he’ll relax. Heck, according to Google, he’ll pipe down at dawn anyway because he has to go looking for worms. Maybe we’re not so different. Maybe the Professor was on to something.

Maybe if we really communicate – have a thoughtful and listening conversation back and forth we’ll understand what’s being said.

Like the early bird looking for his ladybird and like my little Nutmeg holding my face in her hands and craving more from me, once we understand each other and are understood, once we truly communicate, we can relax and respond.

Oh, I hope so.

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