Date: 5/12/20 5:28 am From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] May 12, 2020: Thetford Center
5:14 a.m. 34 degrees. Wind WNW 4 mph. Half-moon in the east dimming by the moment. Air washed clean by yesterday's rain. A painterly sky: lots of shades of blues and whites; delicate tints of magenta suffuse thin clouds in the west; thin clouds in the east . . . luminous. Mist rising off the pond going nowhere. Puddled road hosts wandering slugs. Intermittent streams murmur, again. Permanent streams shout and tumble. Robins preoccupied incubating or noshing ground beetles, mum.
An unseen flock of geese passes by; an outpouring of honks. Red-eyed vireo, fresh from the Amazon basin, doggedly sings in the maples (FOY). Considered the most abundant songbird in the northern hardwood forest, red-eyed vireos defend small territories and *must *sing almost constantly to maintain boundaries. In the early 1950s, a biologist far more mathematically inclined than I estimated that male red-eyes may sing more than 20,000 songs a day, a persistence bordering on pathological (both the bird and the man). The equivalent of woodland elevator music, red-eyed vireos sing throughout the summer, long after other neotropical migrants have toned it down (or left). Let the monotony begin.
White-throated sparrows poignantly announce their presence, their unalloyed five-note whistle arguably one of Vermont's most idiosyncratic bird songs, certainly one of the easiest to mimic. The sweet spot of the morning: rises out of the front yard; the raspberry patch; the bramble-filled clear cut; the edge of the road; the brushy border along the far side of the pond; the spruce-hemmed wetland, well beyond my sightline. I whistle back, bilingual in a world of deliciously chaotic sound, moved by the sparrow or reasons I cannot fathom.