Growing up, katydids were my summer lullaby. On hot, still nights, I would move my pillow to the foot of the bed and sleep with my face inches from the open window. I remember the night air’s damp smell and the moonlit silhouette of silver maples. I remember the hollow calls of barred owls in the swamp across the road. And I remember the rhythmic, echoing chorus of katydids. Mother told us they were saying katydid katydid katydid… katydidn’t… katydid katydid…

I never imagined that I was leaving katydids behind, when I moved to Virginia. The closest thing I’ve seen, since moving, is the greater angle-wing pictured above. (Photos taken in 2011).

The yard does have a thriving population of small katydid cousins, meadow katydids, but they sound nothing at all like my childhood.

Check out this web page for recordings. Click on the common true katydid, to hear the call I grew up with, then compare it to the common meadow katydid. You might also listen to the greater angle-wing, which solves one of my ongoing yard mysteries. I’ve spent many a night creeping around the yard with a flashlight, trying to figure out who makes that repetitive click…

While I was hunting katydids today, trying unsuccessfully for a video clip, I kept hearing what sounded like a sneeze. A tiny, high-pitched bird sneeze. This mockingbird seemed embarrassed, when I traced the sound to it. I wonder if birds suffer from allergies, too?