Drier air, a gentle breeze and cooler temperatures drew me outside this evening for a late-day survey of our property. Since the trees are in full leaf and the daylight was fading, there was far more to hear than to see.
A rising background din was provided by annual cicadas that started their tune-ups earlier this week; crickets joined in as well, their chirps not near as intense as they will soon become. As usual, the songs of robins and cardinals dominated the avian chorus, mellowed by the soft calls of mourning doves and the distant chatter of chickadees; not to be ignored, Carolina wrens delivered their loud, ringing tunes from hidden retreats. Squadrons of chimney swifts twittered overhead and the sharp "peents" of nighthawks echoed from the darkening sky. Some nights, though not this evening, the questioning call of a barred owl rises from the nearby woods, bringing dusk's symphony to a close.
To fully appreciate the diversity of our wild neighbors, we must come to know them by voice as well as by sight. A pleasant summer evening offers a good opportunity to practice that skill.