Saturday, July 10, 2010

CA towhee ~ 07/10/10 ~ at home

California towhee
Pipilo crissalis

Can you get any more plain, brown-grey? Both males and females look like this. It's taken me a while to capture a few fuzzy photos of this bird. Again, thanks to a friend, I finally figured out who was making an early morning (anywhere from 4:45-5:30 a.m.) very loud, very high-pitched, chip, chip, chip - it sounds like a smoke detector that needs new batteries, but quicker in succession.

There are a couple towhees around and I think this is the individual that wakes me up. It's one of the few birds I can actually hear while I'm sleeping, so it's been my alarm clock since before June. I have an odd, one-ear hearing impairment, and if I'm sleeping on my "good" ear I cannot hear most plug-in alarm clocks (huge problem in college after late nights of studying), my husband's occasional snoring (conveniently useful), and many other noises. It reminds me of the story E.O. Wilson wrote about how his hearing impairment kept him away from ornithology and his nearsightedness led him to entomology. I understand.

On a similar train of thought, during a visit to a history of Impressionism exhibit in Rome this spring, Andy and I postulated that Claude Monet was nearsighted for most of his life and then developed the typical age-dependent loss of close-up clarity. His paintings seemed to reflect his change in vision as he aged. I think Monet was painting what he was literally seeing.