October 23rd, 2016: Earbirding as a pace bunny for a half marathon
Well this was fun! I’ve run enough races now that I was asked by Running Room to be a pace bunny for the Vancouver Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. Basically, I just had to set a pace with 10 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking so that less experienced runners who wanted to run that amount of time. In this case, I had a shirt and hat (with bunny ears) and a sign for the 1 hr 50 min pace they needed me for. It was fun chatting with and encouraging other runners, but I also missed my “race-and-bird” time on my own (I’ve put together a decent list on the BMO Half Marathon in early May in the past).
Still, some birds sing through the fray. Most notably, Pacific Wren; our western equivalent–and relatively recent split from–Winter Wren. These spunky LBJs are all over the place and audibly calling or singing much of the time. Everything else was pretty hard to pick up over the running, cheering, and, of course, Rock ‘n’ Roll (lots of good and not-so-good bands along the race route).
Part of the route is in Stanley Park, but when pretty much every bird needs to be seen and can’t be heard, I’m amazing I even counted 30 species.
A while ago, I read a great article on how Pacific Wrens modulate their songs, depending on where they are living. In a nutshell: PAWR near highways sound a little different from those in dense forest, or near ocean surf. This isn’t particularly surprising of course, knowing as we do how different species of birds sing in different frequencies from one another; an adaptation that allows their songs to avoid sonic interference from other species: it helps their music carry further. But I think of this often when I hear a Pacific Wren. These little birds sing for so long and they sound so excited the whole time.
Even with all the rock ‘n’ roll all around, their song literally carries right through it.