Sunday, January 05, 2014


Blog the sound of a thousand wings

Once you’ve made it to 70, one thinks that perhaps they have seen it all, experienced it all, yet I am amazed almost on a daily basis by things I discover in the world around me… amazing things right here in my little corner – I don’t have to travel to Egypt or China or get stranded in Antarctica to be surprised. Nope, all I have to do is step outside at the right moment in time and something is there to make me go, “OOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooo.” I did not come inside to grab my camera, I doubt it would have shown much anyway that would have made a good picture, plus, I was sure it would all have been over in a matter of a couple seconds. Wrong on that count! As it was cold outside and I was not wearing a jacket, hat or gloves… I had just stepped out to put down some old left over cat food – someone will eat it and be glad for it…

And I heard a sound like suddenly it was raining, or maybe a sudden cloud of sleet hitting the leaves of the holly trees and magnolias or maybe the roof… but no, I was standing out in the open and there wasn’t even a breeze stirring. I looked around for the source of the noise – wind in the leaves? No, no wind… what? And my peripheral vision told me to look up as a black cloud, a noisy black cloud flew over my land. I won’t say over my head as the birds covered at least 2 acres, maybe more… so many wings beating the cold air… there were hundreds of birds.

No, I was wrong again. As I stood there (getting a bit chilly now as the seconds passed by) the stream of birds did not stop. The number seemed smaller for a few seconds, perhaps only a few hundred passing over about an acre, the sound of their wings grew very faint, then just as suddenly came this great beating of a thousand tiny wings in the air as the cloud of birds grew huge once again. I stood out there for a couple minutes amazed at the seemingly endless stream of birds heading south. It is kind of late in the season for birds to still be migrating, but there they were, thousands, not hundreds, in large groups, then a more narrow band, then spreading out in a dense cloud once again.

I was getting kind of cold standing out there in my jeans and ‘jammie’ tops, which fortunately this time of year includes an over-sized thermal shirt over a long sleeved T shirt. (I have a need to sleep with my arms on top of the blankets – go figure.) So, it was getting a bit nippy. There was a third huge rush of wings then the seemingly never ending flock sort of migrated to the east where they just became a shadow visible thru the tree tops. OK, I was cold. I headed in to the house. I bet from the sky the line of birds had to have covered at least a mile.

There have been times when I have seen huge clouds of birds shape shifting up and down back and forth in the distance… maybe these were organizational flights to teach the youngsters how to stick with the crowd, I dunno… but that cloud of birds has never flown right over my house before – not with me standing out in the yard on a super quiet morning. I know some flocks have been so large they actually showed up on radar! I am used to flocks of geese flying over, but they are noisy. These little fellows were not making a peep. I guess they saw the weather forecast and were getting out of Dodge! I worry about the robins that winter over here. I hope they had enough sense to go a bit further south, too.

i borrowed a shot off the web of a smaller cloud of starlings. starlings

Have you ever heard the sound of thousands of tiny wings beating the air above your head? Isn’t it amazing? How lucky to have chosen that moment to clean up the old cat food.


Sissy said...

Yes, lucky is the word for your viewing the birds and sure, they know how to survive...outrun the freeze.

Ginnie said...

I ran outside last year when I heard that same weird swishing sound and the sky was black with them. It's a wonderful sight.

Grenville T. Boyd said...

And just think,,,, they'll all be visiting our feeders soon. We had a flock of 100 or so Canada Geese head straight for the lunch pad at Wallops today at T minus 30 seconds. They launched anyway.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Reading this post reminded me of the nearly thousand or so snow geese we saw taking off from a field near Pocomoke, MD as we headed home on Monday. And, that sight too was amazing, even without my camera!