By Jim Williams
A few days ago Sharon who lives beside a marsh wrote to ask me about a bird that sang not only all day but also most of the night. What could it be, she asked. She thought birds were daytime singers.
Yes, many birds gear up for music with dawn, sometimes the first vague hint of dawn. Robins, for instance, will be singing at unholy early hours on early summer mornings, 3 a.m. maybe.
Sharon most likely was hearing a Sedge Wren, a tireless singer of a rather monotonous song. Its habitat is grassy marsh edges. It could cause you to crank the bedroom windows shut.
Sedge Wrens are operatic tenors, however, when compared to Whip-poor-wills. Whip-poor-wills are loud, persistent, and insistent. I remember them from the days when we lived in the woods in northwestern Wisconsin.
On warm spring and summer nights this romantic sound would come from some brushy pasture far across the lake. It was romantic because it was distant and faint.
The bird has been clocked at as many as 59 calls per minute for more than 15 minutes at a stretch. If you lived next door to that, murder could enter your mind.
Anybody know of Whip-poor-wills calling in or around the metro area? The closest I’ve found is along the Minnesota River near Chaska.