About 4:00 a.m. this morning I woke up to my wife saying, “What’s that noise? It sounds like chickens out there [‘there’ being our front yard outside our bedroom window].” I vaguely remember, but in my slightly-awakened fog, her comment seemed incredible (I was not awake enough to distinguish the difference between ‘sounds like chickens’ from ‘is chickens’); strange and amusing (we both chuckled); and curious enough to weigh in my own speculation, “No, that’s the sound of . . . doves . . . no, wait a minute . . . what do you call . . . pigeons! That’s what they are! I remember that sound at my grandmother’s house when we would go there as kids.”
Chances are I probably would have forgotten our conversation had it not been for the same mysterious, birdlike noise seeping through my home-office window that also looks out onto the front yard. It wasn’t like those melodic chirp-chir-ree-urping sounds heard throughout the neighborhood in celebration of the arrival of that gorgeous Spring weather we enjoyed in San Antonio yesterday (Sunday was gorgeous with low’s in high 60’s and high in low 80’s and blue skies). I went outside and could see way up in the sky, about the height of a small aircraft, a flock of geese broken into three groups, their V-formations constantly shortening on one side while lengthening on the other. I stuck my head back in the house and called Viola and she came outside and joined me and we watched the three groups honking and circling around, looking like they were reconnoitering, calculating which way to turn. There were two hawks flying about half the distance between us and the geese, and we wondered if that had anything to do with the geeses’ stationary position for those three or four minutes before they changed direction from due north to north-northwest. In only a couple more minutes their shrinking figures could be seen in the distance moving toward I-281 N. It’s amazing that a group of creatures flying a few thousand feet in the air, honking incessantly all the clamor of which strangely resembled an urban traffic intersection, can constantly re-align their positions relative to one another and in a harmoniously interlocking flight formation create an aerodynamic advantage of reduced air-drag by fifty per cent. Amazing creatures; icons of cooperative teamwork. Persistence comes to mind in my observation of these geese, that when you do something and don’t let up, you don’t give up the task, and keep on keeping on, you find yourself and all those with you who are engaged in the same effort, successively realizing the dream of achieving the goal, the goal to be where you want to be, right at the goal line, home free. These birds cruise at 45 to 50 miles per hour for 16 to 18 hours per day, covering up to 650 miles per day! Persistence is so evident in all migratory birds. The arctic tern sets the record for migratory distance at over 56,000 miles in one year, seeing two Summers on the globe in 365 days. But arctic terns do not fly in a straight line, which accounts for the longer than 18.5 thousand miles from Arctic Circle to Antarctic Circle. What diligence, determination, and persistence these creatures have! My wife and I found this an interesting event from the perspective of waking up in the wee hours of the morning by the sound of these birds that was too vague to identify and realize a few hours later that what we had heard was an active community of birds flying far above in their migratory, northward path leading toward home far away from San Antonio.