Date: 5/8/20 5:44 am
From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...>
Subject: [VTBIRD] May 8, 2020: Thetford Center
5:28 a.m. A minute before sunrise. 31 degrees. Full moon in full view low
in the west, lit by a hill-hidden sun; moon brighter than blue sky. Mist
above the Ompompanoosuc; ground fog above the wetland. It poured last night
with a burst of wind. Road puddled and carmine spotted, littered with a
fresh crop of red maple flowers. Edge of the woods traced in snow.

An unseen loon, passing between Post Pond and Lake Fairlee, or so I
presume, overhead, laughing. Thrushes are silent as stone. Blue-headed
vireos, however, balkanize the valley; setting territories, marking
boundaries with slow, methodical songs and movements, branch to branch,
tree to tree. They're easy to see, easy to follow in the naked woods. In
front of me: spectacles, wing bars, white belly, yellow flanks, blue-gray
heads. In a week (or so), a screen of leaves will hide all but the vireo's
song. Like an old friend who has changed her name, of which I do have a
few—Jan became Choice Holiday, for instance—whenever I see a blue-headed
vireo I'm inclined to use its original name, the name I learned when we met
. . . *solitary vireo.*

Ditto for the lone yellow-rumped warbler in the aspen in front of me. Fifty
years ago, when we met on the dunes of Long Island, the bird was known
as *myrtle
warbler,* warbler of my boyhood. Wintering on the barrier beaches, eating
the hard, waxy fruits of bayberries, the source of the warbler's original
name; digesting wax; defecating seed. The Johnny Appleseed of bayberry.
But, in 1973, the *myrtle warbler* of the east and north was lumped
together with the *Audubon's warbler* of the west into a single species,
the *yellow-rumped warbler*. Soon, based on DNA evidence, they may again
become separate species. I certainly hope so. The name *myrtle warbler* tethers
the bird to a landscape, to a unique and critical ecological function.
Yellow-rump is *just *the color of its *tuchus.*
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