Frosty Morning

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The Cats clamor for kibble in the early morning light at Leafhopper Farm! These prowling feline fantastics have kept the mice out of the grain room, the voles out of the garden, and have a handled on our rat population under the hen house. They occasionally stalk the humming bird feeder, but no fast fliers have been hit yet. Birds are wiser around the farm, taking to the shrubs and hedgerows with gusto when any cat’s around. My cat alarm identification has gone up, and I look forward to testing it in the woods soon.

What am I talking about? Bird language! Birds make special calls for different events, and the pitch of the calls changes, depending on what the bird want to communicate. The sounds relate very much to what they are trying to convey, like a “shh-shh” “shushing” noise directed towards a threat, like people walking near-bye, or a cat stalking a nest. Shrill noises are alarms, a sort of shouting through the woods to let everyone else know there is danger, usually a predator moving through a bird’s territory.

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The chickens have bird language, just like their wilder cousins. When an aerial threat flies over, the hens make a low “tulck” cluck, deep in the throat and subtle, but all the birds will look up and watch the sky for danger, passing on the low “tulck” warning through the flock. When I am “raiding” the nests for eggs, a laying hen might give what I call a “dinosaur” call. It’s a very reptilian, shrill roaring, like the raptors in Jurassic Park (I think they used digitally manipulated chicken noises). That muted roar is definitely telling me not to come near the nest. On this fine morning, the hens are clucking merrily as they glean some Scratch and Peck breakfast among our swales.

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Living in a saturated environment can sometimes overwhelm the senses. Observing frost heaves coming out of dead twigs in a sea of woody detritus; patchwork sewn together with time and careful intimacy, laced in ice on a cold morning, blue light cast’s the ground aglow.

 

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