Date: 5/11/20 6:10 am From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] May 11, 2020: Thetford Center
5:31 a.m. 38 degrees. Windless. Frostless. Snowless. Meteorologically speaking, we seem to be trending in the right direction . . . again. Pale half-moon halfway across Coyote Hollow. Sunlight cascading down the valley's western flank. The air clear and clean, crystalline, every tree and twig in sharp relief. Thin, sparse clouds, pink along the edges. An altogether gorgeous morning. Beech leaves unwrapping; bud scales peel back, fall off.
White-throated sparrows pair up. Both sexes sing. Blue-headed vireos pair up. Both sexes don't sing. A wood thrush (FOY) hops from pine branch to pine branch, caroling, an enchanting, ethereal but static song. As far as avian troubadours go, I'm a hermit-thrush man all the way. Never quite as intimate as a robin, when we lived in Hartland, in the 1980s, a wood thrush was a dooryard nester. This bird, crooning his heart out, is the first wood thrush I've heard in the Hollow in twenty-three years. Last year, mid-May 2019, a farmhouse in central Ohio, awaiting Jordan's graduation from Kenyon: a wave of wood thrush put-in during the night; they were everywhere and full-throated, which emphasized how few I see back home, in Vermont. Too bad. They're not a wilderness thrush, like Bicknell's or Swainson's, they're a trusting thrush; when I was a boy, wood thrush nested in the older, wooded suburbs on Gold Coast, of Long Island. Every trip with my mom to Sagamore Hill, Theodore Roosevelt's home in Oyster Bay, now a National Monument, produced a wood thrush. Thought of the morning: What if William McKinley had not been assassinated and Roosevelt had not become the twenty-sixth president? Who among the next nineteen would have had the foresight to preserve from exploitation two hundred thirty million acres of land, of which fifty-one were designated national bird reservations and four national game preserves, which eventually and collectively morphed into the National Wildlife Refuge System? What other president believed like an Iroquois elder that landscape and wildlife are the birthrights of the unborn? For seven-and-a-half years Roosevelt kept a list of birds he saw on the White House grounds. I saw my life wood thrush on his front lawn.
No mergansers, today. No mallards. Bittern calling, second-part only. Three common yellowthroats in the alders (FOY). One swamp sparrow in the reeds (FOY). Both singing.