I love to birdwatch. I try to hone in on all the sounds around me to learn to identify birds by their call and song, as well as by sight. I have a good memory for what I’ve heard so if I’m close to home or the internet I log on to the Cornell University site and work my way through bird sounds. (I know there’s an easier way to do this…I just haven’t looked into it.)
One sound I kept hearing near my house since we moved in a year ago stumped me. I even emailed a friend, who email another friend with my sound description to figure out what is was.
My first email: “The last few nights we have heard up in the trees a series of “klack” sounds followed by what sounds like “hap-py” or “help me” or “hu hu” with the accent on the first sound. We know a lot of birds songs and calls can sound like words or phrases so we’re thinking it might be some noctural bird call or simply a lost noctural parrot that’s asking for help to get home ;). Any idea what this could be?”
The only reasonable response was a nightjar. This person suggested some other bird sound websites as well to check out.
It was not the nightjar…although I did hear one all that week late at night. Its so fun to just listen to nature late at night. I’m thankful we don’t live near noise pollution.
I gave up as I was starting to realize the noise was nearly each night around dusk. It would be hard to see what it was at dusk, hidden in dark foliage. In the summer dusk is somewhere around 8:30. So for a few nights I would walk the dog past the same spot, sometimes hearing it, sometimes not. As it did occur around the same time, I started wondering in the lady that lived in the house where the tree stood had some kind of crazy timer/alarm or whatever. I dropped the issue.
Last week I met some friends who live back around Oxford and Edgemere. Somehow in the conversation we were talking about iguanas on the Key and one person started laughing, and talked about how fairly often at night this brightly colored creature hangs out by her kitchen window and, as if to say goodnight, makes this crazy noise … then she imitated it.
Oh my heavens, my jaw must have dropped and rolled down the street. That was the exact noise I’d been hearing coming from a tree, two houses over from mine.
So I got back in touch with one friend (she’s with Fish and Wildlife so I thought this would interest her) who sent my note on to the Coastal Resources people with Sarasota County. The response I got was comforting (as I was sure it could be a monitor lizard instead). She said: “We have received multiple sightings reports of iguanas on Siesta Key. No monitor lizards yet, thank goodness. A large brightly colored lizard in the trees is likely a green iguana – vegetarians, but very prolific and can quickly become a nuisance.”
Case closed…it’s not a bird after all.