Monday, November 15, 2010

Avian Imaginings

There's a great Bobby Timmons call & response tune called "Moanin'", recorded when Timmons was with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, given words later by Jon Hendricks—Every morning finds me moanin' / yes, lord / cause of all the trouble I see / yes, lord—with, of course, the "lord" a fifth lower than the "yes." One of those numbers that, once heard, stays with you.

Was reminded of it today by a conjunction of bird song. A koel, static in a tree, & a passing family of black cockatoos. Actually, song is a generous description. The koel, as I've gone on about at length before, has, in addition to the simple ko-el cry that gives it its name, an extended play version, a shrill spiralling piercing call, repeated often when it's horny. & it's breeding season now.

Part of my earlier rant:
My bird book describes it as monotonous endlessly repeated "koo-eel". It's sort of like a slide (or swanee) whistle, with the koo rising in a glissando to the eel at the end. But when it's looking for a mate, don't think "put a cork in it" (though you pray for that to happen), think "corkscrew", for its call rises in a feverish accelerating crescendo. & to make it worse, it's nocturnal as well as diurnal.
The white cockatoo has a raucous shriek, as annoying as the koel. But the black cockatoo—more precisely the red-tailed b.c.—has a single syllable call, "a rolling metallic krur-rr or kree, which may carry long distances and is always given while flying." Different birds, however, emit that call at different pitches.....

So, this morning, perfectly synchronized, the koel's glissando—every morning finds me moanin'—& then black cockatoo #1—yes—followed by b.c.#2, a fifth lower—lord. Koel—cause of all the trouble I see. Yes, lord from the cockatoos.

& on, & on. & then I finish off the middle eight for them. But I pray really and truly pray to find some relief. Don't mind the cockatoos—they're great birds, one of my favorites. But can't stand the ko-hell, even when they're doing standards.

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