In what has become a birthday tradition, I linger in bed for a few minutes and soak in bird-song, seeing how many I can identify. There's the rhythmic hoot of the grebes, the tympanic thump of the American bittern, the wild arpeggios and dry buzz of the house wrens, the melodic trill of the Nutall's woodpecker, the harsh rattle of the kingfisher, the resonant hoot of the great-horned owls and hiss and click of the barn owls, the insistent high-low call of the red-shouldered hawk, the rough grunt of great blue heron, the wild melody of the kingbird, the zip of the hummingbirds, and many more.
And these barn swallows, of which we have seemingly dozens at each window, each with an insistent "feed me" whine that starts at first light and moves into a crescendo as an adult approaches. This clutch of five illustrates bird adolescence - capable of flight but not yet knowledgeable or skilled enough to secure insect food on their own, and still being fed by their parents. The fading "grin patches" are targets for their moms and dads and representative of that dependency. The thin white crescents will be gone soon and the adult-sized babies forced out to make way for another brood or two.
A symphony of sound, in contrast to the growing silence in the Gulf, half a continent away, a profound overlay of sadness on what should otherwise be a season full of enjoyment of abundance and life.