08/06/2012 09:46

In the quiet of the early morning or early evening, you hear a bird call. In your busy life your senses are bombarded and usually you screen out all but what is important at the moment.  Strangely enough no sensation at all is most apt to get you to pay attention.   

            “I've been hearing beautiful bird songs every morning since spring, but suddenly I'm not hearing birds at all! What happened to them?” was recently the Question of the Week on the website The answer explains in detail how birds use their calls to fit the events in their lives and there are periods when it is to their advantage not to do so much talking.

            Without being able to identify the birds or their calls, simply by listening, you can become closer to your environment. Your five senses are always sending you messages about what’s around you.          This time of the year, as evening falls, katydids and cicadas call from the tree tops and crickets chirp from their hiding places. “Enjoy the cricket talk now. Love-lorn male field crickets began chirping on warm July nights. Theirs was just one of many voices in the insect chorus. But when the cool fall evenings arrive, only the slow deliberate chirps of field crickets will remain to fill the stillness,” writes Anita Carpenter in Wisconsin Natural Resources, August 2012.

            Putting your sense of hearing to work you can hear a breeze rustling the leaves of a nearby tree, the hum of a pesky mosquito or fly, or the crunch of dry grass underfoot. Your skin can feel the warmth or coolness of the wind. You can watch the leaves on trees in the distance to “see” the wind move towards you much as a sailor can watch the waves.

            If your eyes follow the sound, you might possibly catch a glimpse of the bird or insect making the sound you hear. Standing or sitting still and looking around you at the ground, you may be able to observe an ant carrying an unusually heavy load or a bee visiting a clover blossom. If you have a little bit of light and know where to look, you can see worms and insects of the night.

            The smell of something on the barbecue grill is attention-getting. Someone’s wood-burning stove gives off a familiar odor. Concentrating on what you smell can help you catch the scent of flowers and plants around you.

            However, you must learn what things you can safely taste in nature!

            If you really want to know more about the living things around you, a search of the Internet will provide you much information. Thanks to Gus Petrakis for calling attention to this user-friendly website about birds and bird calls:


Della Moen, Earth Team Volunteer, NRCS/Stephenson Soil and Water Conservation District, an equal opportunity provider and employer, 08/01/12 (for publication on 08/04/12 in the Journal- Standard, Freeport, Illinois)  Della can be reached at