Saturday, April 18, 2020

Stevie Nicks Has Definitely Heard a Dove Before


Alright.

I've always had an appreciation (see here) for Stevie Nick's 1981 song "Edge of Seventeen" because of its shoutout to the overlooked and underappreciated White-winged Dove. The chorus of the song goes "Just like the white winged dove / Sings a song / Sounds like she's singing / Ooh ooh ooh."

It's a cool song I guess. Here's the video.



I've always enjoyed the specificity of the White-winged Dove reference. Was Stevie leafing through a Peterson guide when she came up with the lyric? Was she a secret birder? I did quibble a little bit with her representation of the birds song, but I gave her the benefit of artistic license. (Sibley says that the song is "a rhythmic hooting hhhHEPEP pou pooooo … reminiscent of a Barred or Spotted Owl, and a slow, measures series pep pair pooa paair pooa pair pooa" but these wouldn't fit into that song at all.)

Today, however, Stevie has unexpectedly shed confusing new light on the situation, claiming that she has just now for the first time (April 2020) heard a dove singing.
There's a lot to take in here.

First of all, the bird singing in Steve's video is a Mourning Dove, not a White-winged Dove.

Second, fast facts about the obscure White-winged Dove was on a menu on an airplane?

Third, there is absolutely no way that Stevie Nicks has never heard a dove before, White-winged or Mourning or otherwise. Let's focus on that for a bit, because it's goddamn impossible.

You'll often hear new-ish birder say that they feel like they're seeing the world for the first time. I was like that. Once I started looking and listening for birds it felt like I was living in a new world. One of the absolute grandest things about getting into birds is the awakening that they're all around us, nearly everywhere we go.

But that doesn't mean I didn't know that ANY birds were around. I knew a ton of birds before I was a birder, just from the unavoidabilities of life. The Mourning Dove was one of them (we don't have White-winged Doves in Maine). They sat on the wires outside my bedroom and sang their songs. How could I miss them? I had no occasion to know them, nothing like, say, writing an international hit song about them, but I still knew them because I was surrounded by them.

How could Stevie Nicks miss the White-winged Dove? She was born in Phoenix and raised in towns throughout the Southwest and California. Here's the eBird map of White-winged Dove for Phoenix:


I bet she heard them singing every day. I know I am extra sensitive to birds, but it still surprises me that people can be so insensitive, so unaware of their surroundings. I'm not trying to knock Stevie, and Lord knows she doesn't give a shit about what I think, but I hope we can all go outside and listen to what's around us.





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