I headed to the creek on Saturday morning with a deep sense of relief and happiness.
The long work week was finally over, and the next one still felt far in the future. For the moment, I was free from expectations and deadlines, directed only by what interested me.
I stepped out of the Mustang in the Rincon Del Diablo and into the summer morning.
I heard Yellow-breasted Chats calling along the bend of the creek and Great Kiskadees squabbling amicably in the upper branches of the pecan grove on the far bank.
As I began walking on the paved road toward the city lift station, I heard a pair of Mourning Doves calling from among the branches of a venerable old mesquite growing at the side of the roadway.
I stopped and listened to them for a while. I’ve always disliked the name “Mourning” Dove.
I know it was named that way because the bird’s song sounds sad, as if it is in mourning. It’s not, of course, and I’ve always thought its name should be changed to “Morning Dove,” because that’s when we hear them most often.
As a counterpoint to the Mourning Doves’ song, I also heard the songs of several other dove species, the smaller Inca Doves and the similiarly-sized and more numerous White-winged Doves.
There are two other species of doves that can be found along the creek, the Rock Pigeon and the Eurasian Collared-Dove.
Both of these doves are not native to North America. Rock Pigeons were introduced to this continent from their native Europe and have made themselves at home in the urban landscape.
Equally at home among humans are the Eurasian Collared-Doves. These birds, native to the Mediterranean, North Africa and Near East, were introduced to the Bahamas in the 1970s.
As Cornell noted, “(The Eurasian Collared-Doves) made their way to Florida by the 1980s and then rapidly colonized most of North America.”
Michael G. and I recorded these doves on the Del Rio Christmas Count in the mid-1990s, and they are extremely common on the north side of the city.
I continued walking and also heard Carolina and Bewick’s Wrens singing in the cane hedge.
Bird parents and their fledged youngsters crowded around the city’s lift station, where an area light attracts night-flying insects.
Black Phoebes, Vermilion Flycatchers, Northern Cardinals, Brown-crested Flycatchers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Summer Tanagers and White-eyed Vireos flitted in and out of the trees and bushes growing around the lift station.
With all the birds active around the lift station, I didn’t see much reason to go anywhere else.
I spent several hours wandering back and forth in the area close to the lift station, until the sun rose high over the trees, and it was time for me to head home.