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September--Quail

In A Sand County Almanac’s “September”, Aldo Leopold once again returns to the joy of birdsong, remarking on the fact that by autumn, the birds no longer greet the day quite so vociferously.

“It is on some, but not all of these misty autumn daybreaks that one may hear the chorus of the quail,” Leopold writes. “The silence is suddenly broken by a dozen contralto voices, no longer able to restrain their praise of the day to come. After a brief minute or two, the music closes as suddenly as it began.”

The predictable symphony of birdsong in June becomes unpredictable as fall approaches, he says.

“In autumn,” he writes, “on the other hand, the robin is silent and it is quite unpredictable whether the covey-chorus will occur at all. The disappointment I feel on these mornings of silence perhaps shows that things hoped for have a higher value than things assured. The hope of hearing quail is worth half a dozen risings-in-the-dark.”

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