A DIFFERENT VIEW - No need for eyesight to enjoy local birds

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I wake to the song of a robin perched high in the maple tree just outside our bedroom window. Then from high in the locust tree floats out the lovely trill of the meadowlark.

While taking my guide dog out for his morning relieving I listen to a myriad of birds singing in nearby trees. Included in this cacophony are the voices of the goldfinch, chickadee, song sparrow and house wren, who with his mate appears to like the bird house I set up for chickadees.

The mourning dove lifts up his sad cry, and when disturbed it leaves with a distinct whir of wings.

Another favorite is the red-wing blackbirds, which have a lovely trill to cheer anyone who will take a moment to listen. They let me know when the bird seed feeder is empty, as if they know I can't see, but hide the fact that they scatter seed all over the porch and ground as they pick out the choice morsels.

Then the quail and doves charge in to clean up the evidence. The California quail have many different voices. If I come out while they are eating the fallen bird seed, I hear them scatter across the lawn like leaves blown in a breeze while muttering their unhappiness at my intrusion.

I have told them to stay put, that I'd not hurt them but they ignore my pleas. But later when I cry out because I've just been stung by a wasp I was not even bothering, get a large sliver in my hand or hit a finger with a hammer, these quail seem to laugh at me.

Some of the birds' songs are not really beautiful but in their own way add to the bird choir. The magpie has more of a scream than a song but thinks she is beautiful in voice. Then there's the crow. Well what can I say about the crow. After all, he is in my email address so I must speak kindly of him.

Walking down the road, a Chinese pheasant bolts toward the sky -- the sudden explosion of voice and wings as it takes flight from somewhere almost underfoot. I think he deliberately likes to try to scare passers-by. Then the mallard ducks playing in the creek seem to be constantly quacking and telling their story.

Another bird I hear in the early morning is the owl who in his all-wise perch, usually high atop a utility pole, hoots out disgust that I can't see like he can. He also brags for being able to pivot his head nearly clear around.

One year a pair of killdeer made their nest in the center of our potato patch. We never saw one potato bug that year, and though I have tried to convince them to nest there again they have not accepted my offer. Maybe they got tired of eating potato bugs.

These are just a few of the birds that inhabit the Walla Walla Valley and sing their praises to cheer us if we just take time to listen.

Today as you hurried off to work or school how many birds did you hear? Can you identify them by their song, or with your eyes glued to the road do you even hear them?

Have you watched the finches and wrens eat their favorite food, the small thistle seed? They must crack it, drop the hull and eat only the tiny heart of the seed. Think of how many seeds this little bird must eat just to survive.

Now I must admit these little feathered friends would be more helpful if they didn't leave so much of themselves behind on the porch rail and floor, but in this they don't listen to me either.

Look around you and see these lovely birds; take time to hear their songs. They may put a smile on your face. Even without eyesight one can find a world of beauty.

Ernie Jones, a registered nurse, retired early due to vision loss. Contact him at theolcrow@charter.net or 529-9252.

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