The dawn chorus these days is changing. It's mid-summer; the sun is high, the meadow grasses are wheat-colored, it's hot. Most of the birds are no longer setting up territories and singing for mates as they did in the spring. This is the season of fledging. 
     Before Anna left for the summer to paddle the mighty Coulonge River in Quebec, I asked her to draw four of our favorite birds for me. I had recorded their songs with my i-thing because their songs are so distinctive, and I want to be able to offer a picture of them without infringing on anyone's copyright.
     She sat on the tall chairs at the island in the kitchen, bird books spread before her, intent on her work. Before my eyes, this mascara-wearing attentively-dressed teenage athlete shrank down to the little blonde tomboy with bangs and braids who used to sit at the counter in her plaid shirt and cargo shorts, drawing birds with the same consummate intensity. Anna drew birds pretty much from the start. When she was in Kindergarten, she would invite her best friend over, and I'd find them sitting at the kitchen counter playing games with the bird book: sometimes it was flipping through it randomly and trying to name the birds they opened to, often it was drawing birds side-by-side.  On the walls of our rather grown-up looking dining room are two
 bird portraits done by Anna when she was age 7 or 8: a downy woodpecker, and a peacock. On my desk in my shed is a cigar box painted with a sandhill crane. Her “special box” in the basement, the place where each child keeps the mementos of their childhood, is filled with bird drawings.
     She's fledging now. At Wabun, her first two years of canoe trips were loops, always returning to the base. This year is a long river trip – they go straight out to journey the length of the Coulonge and challenge themselves with the whitewater and wilderness that come with it. Her one letter that made it here before they left post offices and cell phone towers behind was filled with exclamation points. Her wings are strong; she's off.
     And here at home, the phoebe and the black-throated green warbler, the ovenbird and the common yellowthroat are still singing, but not like they were. These are the mornings of crows and the song sparrows. The song sparrows have nested nearby, and when I am in the garden they sing as if to warn of my presence. The crows are also a family now; the young follow the adults, begging for food, cawing in their plaintive nasal voice. In the recording, you can hear them behind the very assertive call of the adult. These are the birds that wake me before dawn.
     By the time Anna returns, the young crows will no longer be dependent. Who will sing in the morning? Maybe it will be quiet – or maybe there will be another shift: soon it will be the time of the late summer crickets and cicadas invisibly buzzing, whirring and droning from the meadow. And Anna will ask, “Can I drive?”