Enjoy background music of gardening | News, Sports, Jobs



Gardening is a sensory experience. From the ever-changing parade of blooming plants throughout the growing season, to the evening perfume of certain varieties, it is an addictive hobby. However, for me, the most enjoyable sensory part of gardening is the lovely background symphony of the singing birds.

Over the years, I have acquired a list of favorites that sing to me as I garden. Learning the songs of birds is an easy way to know who is near without having to see them. Today’s technology makes this easy because recorded bird songs are available online. Or download an app that listens and identifies for you.

My top 10 listening favorites:

10. The Eastern towhee is one of the earlier birds to return in spring. Listen for a rustling in the leaves as it searches for food and its loud “towhee” call. The invitation to “Come for tea” is another of its songs.

9. Eastern meadowlarks have a very musical five-part song that is repeated. They nest on the ground in open fields.

8. Put a wren box in your garden and attract house wrens. The bubbly, happy music is a big song coming from a tiny bird.

7. The northern mockingbird is an excellent mimic as it imitates the songs of other birds. A singing mockingbird is the easiest way to know which birds are in the neighborhood without hearing their individual songs.

6. The Eastern bluebird is a delight to both the ears and eyes. Its soft, warbling song will let you know it is present before seeing its bright blue and red coloring.

5. A red-eyed vireo sounds as if it has taken the robin’s song and broken it into fragments. One of the most common summer songbirds, it is known to sing nonstop throughout the day.

4. The bright red and black breeding male scarlet tanager often sings from the tops of trees. It is easy to spot and its song sounds like a robin that has strained its voice.

3. A spring favorite is the returning Baltimore oriole, and its loud, rich whistle announces its presence. Entice this bright orange and black bird to your yard by offering grape jelly and orange slices.

2. The beautiful flutelike song of the wood thrush is one I love to hear in the evening. Its brown back and speckled front make it difficult to spot in the woods, but its lovely song lets you know it is there.

1. My personal favorite for the most beautiful song is the red-breasted grosbeak. Its medley of whistles, sometimes described as a robin that has had voice training, and its striking black, white and red coloring make it worth identifying. Look for them on your bird feeder in the spring.

To learn about bird songs, including an option for an app, go to http://go.osu.edu/birdsongs.

Steffen is an Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in Mahoning County.

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