…and she smiles.
High up in the bough of a tree a bird, smaller than all the rest, trills out three pure, clear notes on a descending scale. The woman raises her face into the last rays of the setting sun, and she smiles.—-The Singing of the Dead
You know the bird that sings every time Emaa wants to make her presence known to Kate? That, my friends, is the golden-crowned sparrow, my favorite bird. It’s a migratory bird so it leaves for Vancouver Island and the west coast of the U.S. every fall, but when it comes back the following year, you know by its song — “Spring…is…here….” — that you made it through another winter, and that spring really is finally here.
Which is why I chose it to be Emaa’s voice from beyond the grave.
Listen to it here.
Chatter Kate Shugak Random Friday bad blood golden crowned sparrow Kate Shugak
Dana View All →
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.
Had to hear it and I found the song here: http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/128/_/Golden-crowned_Sparrow.aspx
Thank you, Mary! I didn’t look hard enough for that.
I was struck by your comment and photo about the Golden-crowned Sparrows. I too love these birds and have always enjoyed their inclusions as characters in your books.
The same birds that breed in Alaska come down to spend the winter in my locale in western Washington.
In the last 2 weeks, several have filtered in and are now wintering in the native shrubs along our property line. I hear their three note song on and off all day.
A funny story about their song: I’m a birder and my sister was asking me about a persistent three note bird song that was driving her crazy. I explained what it was, and that breeding males make that song and it usually represents either a defining of territory, or perhaps advertising for a female. She asked me why it stops when they pair up and have a nest.
I joked that it’s like sitting on your nest and singing: “COME eat my babies. COME eat my babies”. Not a good idea.
Ever since, that’s how we both remember that song and its singer.
A friend says no, no, Dana, that’s not the “spring is here” bird, that’s the “Kall-en-berg” bird. Kallenberg is her last name.
Dana, I loaned some of your books to my nephew. His reaction: Kate ROCKS! he is out buying more Kate books now. Thanks for the fantastic writing
If he gets as far as San Diego this winter, I’ll be sure he’s fed and watered so he can come back and sing for you next summer.
Thanks for being such an enabler, Jackie.
And thanks for the care and feeding of my favorite bird, Marilynne.
A smile comes to my face as I remember the moments where Emma makes herself known. Thanks for the reminder!
And I spelled it wrong, and KNEW I spelled it wrong…ding, dong it!
Sometimes, when I’m typing too fast…me, too.