Even just the endpapers are helpful in Peterson Field Guide to Bird Sounds of Eastern North America. But this is the first time these endpapers don’t end a mystery. There’s this mystery bird, see, who I DON’T see, and who I barely hear: high, fast, faraway.
Birdie came to town on Sept. 8, which happened to be Star Trek Day, and because the tune reminded me of a sound-effect from the U.S.S. Enterprise, I went down an internet Rabbit Hole so deep (and delightful) I couldn’t remember the song that started the search.
But I heard it again yesterday, this Star Trek bird. I heard it when migrating warblers were eating hackberry psyllids high up in the tree by the driveway.
Too high up: I couldn’t see anything but yellow bellies.
I’ve listened to all 36 warblers on yesterday’s eBird for Nashville, plus other small birds on the list, and still no go.
It’s an ascending scale—maybe 5 notes? major key—super-fast and super-high, ephemeral, haunting.
It also reminds me of Papageno’s echoed solo snippet in The Magic Flute.
**If you are a birder and these descriptors make instant sense to you, please guide me.**
Such a daft request reminds me of my days as a bookseller, when customers would expect me to find, instantly, “that book about a flower lady,” although they couldn’t recall the title or author: only that the paperback “might have been blue.”
Here’s the Instagram prose-poem from the day I heard the bird:
My Instagram posts are 100% nature, and most of it the Sidewalk kind.
I’m not fond of facebook, but some people aren’t on Instagram, so I post nature things there from time to time.
Joanna Brichetto is a naturalist in Nashville, the hackberry-tree capital of the world.
She writes about everyday natural wonders amid every habitat loss, and her essays have appeared in Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, Fourth Genre, Hippocampus, The Hopper, Flyway, The Common, City Creatures, The Fourth River and other journals.