This was fairly early on in my bird language explorations but I had been listening a lot and had begun to figure out how to tell the difference between when the birds are in their baseline activities versus when they're agitated about something. So when the feeling of the landscape started to shift I knew something was going on.
Suddenly it seemed like every bird in the whole area had been drawn to the back of my property and were now alarming in amazing numbers. I heard robins, flickers, chickadees, goldfinches, sparrows, juncos and several other species that I didn't even recognize. Something intense was happening.
I left the burgers in the care of a responsible party and ran out to the woods to see what was happening. I moved quietly through the trees and bushes following where the sound was coming from.
When I got to the back of the property the sound was immense. I knew it was just a little bit further before I would be in sight range of whatever was causing these alarms.
I had to get on a sneak trail that went between thick fir trees & the neighbors fence but eventually managed to find a clearing where I could see out across a lawn to spot the culprit. It was a big Northern Goshawk perched just below the canopy in a red maple tree.
This was the first time I had ever successfully used bird language to spot a predator. I was thoroughly thrilled and amazed to witness this incredible scene.
I zoomed out my gaze to watch the ball of birds surrounding the hawk and was struck by how geometrical it was. The consistency with which they kept their distance and the sheer quantity of birds involved in the alarms made it really clear to me that alarms really do have a shape.
After watching in awe for a few minutes I knew the food would be getting ready so I decided to head back to the house. All the way back I could still track the sound and hear the rising and falling intensity of the birds surrounding the hawk.
The alarms continued for a few more minutes and then the hawk must have flown off because the birds started to settle down and re-initiated their feeding frenzy.