The birds of Zoom (commentary)

  • This Earth Day, let’s neglect for a second the issues of the pandemic and politics, and take note of that pure soundscapes of cities … and the little birds of the Zoom calls, says Enrique Ortiz, Senior Program Director on the Andes Amazon Fund.
  • The Spanish model of this piece initially appeared in RPP.
  • This submit is a commentary. The views expressed are these of the writer, not essentially Mongabay.

The fondness for chicken watching is a lot part of the lifetime of “the birders” that it’s even unconscious. With out realizing it, I’m listening and watching our feathered fellow residents, wherever I’m, even in entrance of my pc. And now, in nowadays once I spend extra time in Zoom calls than exterior, I continuously interrupt conversations, asking in regards to the birds which might be heard within the background, or asking for silence to hearken to them. “Did you hear it?” Evidently typically I pay extra consideration to the birds than the conversations themselves, as continuously folks ask me “who’re you listening to?”. I may even predict wherein metropolis or neighborhood the individuals of the zoom calls are situated based mostly on the birds calling.


It’s curious that when the calls are from some neighborhoods in Lima, Peru, the loudest and most dominant chicken name is that of the Scrub blackbird, a shiny black, medium-sized chicken, which is famous for its sharp and musical name. They’re fairly frequent in gardens, notably in Lima’s districts of Miraflores and San Isidro. On the finish of the day, as in the event that they have been having a “joyful hour”, they usually collect in massive teams on a single tree, maybe telling one another how the day went.

Scrub blackbird. Photograph credit score: Miguel Moran (miguelmoranphoto on Instagram / miguelmoranphoto on Fb)

Relying on the time, the West Peruvian dove (referred to as cuculí in Peru) can be heard. These native pigeons must be, together with the black vulture, within the coat of arms of the town of Lima. There is no such thing as a different capital on the continent the place this chicken could possibly be its greatest consultant. They dominate the early hours of the morning with a candy melody that appears to repeat their vernacular title, cuucuulíí. Their vivid blue eyelids appear like they’ve been painted, prepared for a celebration.

West Peruvian dove. Photograph credit score: Miguel Moran (miguelmoranphoto on Instagram / miguelmoranphoto on Fb)

The Andean highlands

When the calls are with colleagues within the Andean area, the tune that dominates within the background is that of the rufous collared sparrow, or as it’s identified domestically, the pichisanka. This little chicken has such a pleasant face and a crest that makes you smile, as if seeing a pal. It’s at all times prowling the open areas of cities, whether or not in parks or gardens, the place it is extremely lively searching for seeds, and the males, like good Andean romantics, spend their time singing all day lengthy, in all probability to maintain their companions attentive. Its melody is as attribute of the sierra as is the “fried guinea pig”. 

Rufous collared sparrow.P hoto credit score: Miguel Moran (miguelmoranphoto on Instagram / miguelmoranphoto on Fb)

The “Eared Dove” is one other chicken that dominates the Andean soundscape in Peru. It may be heard within the early morning (that’s the reason it’s domestically referred to as “the daybreak dove”) or near sundown. It has a tune that, to some, sounds considerably unhappy and even melancholic. For me, it’s quite melodic, candy, and profound.  It has that depth that reaches your soul.

Eared dove. Photograph credit score: Miguel Moran (miguelmoranphoto on Instagram / miguelmoranphoto on Fb)

The pichisanka, the daybreak dove and one other chicken referred to as Chiguanco or the chiguanco thrush dominate the acoustic setting of cities at increased elevation like Cusco and Huancayo.

Chiguanco thrush. Photograph credit score: Fernando Angulo

The Amazon

However when the calls are from the Amazon area, the kinds of songs are as nice as its biodiversity. Generally, the dominant chicken name there’s so excessive that it virtually pierces your eardrums. It is sort of a violin word, which is why the locals name its writer, the “violinist”. This, the blue-gray tanager, a medium-sized, opaque mild blue chicken that’s as typical for the Amazon as are the mosquito bites. It’s lively in every single place and always, trying to find fruits within the courtyards of cities. From what I do know, these birds should not territorial, and their songs serve quite to keep up their relationships with their conspecifics. 

Blue-gray tanager. Photograph credit score: Miguel Moran

Additionally, it’s fairly frequent to listen to a chicken named “Víctor Díaz” or nice kiskadee.  Their tune actually seems like their title they name: Victor Diaz. Vivid yellow in colour with a brown again, they’re from the group of the flycatchers and are sometimes seen perching on uncovered branches or poles, ready for an insect to catch it on the wing.  Víctor Díaz could be very well-liked in cities like Iquitos or Pucallpa.  

Nice kiskadee. Photograph credit score: Fernando Angulo

Lastly, there are the at all times frequent white winged parakeets or domestically referred to as pihuichos.  These parakeets are as frequent as they’re noisy, and don’t sing in addition to they give the impression of being. Generally, the extra lovely and colourful the chicken is, it often finally ends up being the worst singer, and vice versa. A type of compensation, maybe. Any resemblance to people isn’t any coincidence.

White winged parakeet. Photograph credit score: Miguel Moran

Zooming out

Now that we’re returning to the standard noise air pollution ranges, let’s zoom out and switch our eyes and ears to that city world that few see. I want there was an “hour on the planet” -at daytime and daily, the place silence reigns in order that we will respect that pure music that each wholesome metropolis ought to have. In the meantime, for the birders, the one selection we’ve got is to stand up early.

Initially printed in Spanish at Las avecitas del zoom.

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