sounds once unnoticed

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a cracked knuckle / a body shifting in a chair

     In the morning, I watch birds from my kitchen table as they eat their own breakfasts of mealworms and suet. They sing and chirp endlessly. When children learn of birds, they learn of chirping — the kind we repeat with cute mouths puckered into tiny circles — but not the trills, mechanical clicks, shuffles, hollow notes that make the hair on my arms stand up. It wasn't until I started watching birds that I realized how noisy they are

     It's amazing! I love it! I love all of these birdsounds. I wonder if they speak to different species or just amongst themselves. The Cowbird's squeak is anxious and urgent. Cowbirds are parasites that lay their eggs in other birds' nests and watch from afar as their chicks are fostered and raised by strangers. They destroy the homes of any birds who refuse to cooperate. At first I thought this merciless, reproducing rapidly, systematically, and placing the burden of child-rearing on others. But the wavering call of the Cowbird is touched with fear. They're trying to protect their babies, I think. In the middle of the night, Cowbirds meet secretly with their children and teach them all they need to know about survival. And so, even as they feed from the mouths of a stranger, young Cowbirds hear the call of their parents and know that they aren't alone