Date: 5/19/20 5:52 am From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] May 19, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
5:08 a.m. 39 degrees, wind WNW 1 mph, barely a pulse. Intermittent streams, more dark slashes than ribbons of water, slow puddly creeps, soon to stop moving altogether. Ash in bud, dark knobs like knuckles bulge at the end of twigs; every other tree in leaf. Baby beech leaves, which drooped yesterday, rise today; close to horizontal. Small patches of tender sugar maple leaves on the road, a dozen or more per patch. No sign of foul play: neither holes in the leaves nor chew marks. Some with petioles, some without. (Spring in its infancy already dropping leaves.) Alders twigs, where the yellowthroats sing, a band of tiny, purple buttons . . . female flowers.
Two veeries (FOY), along the northeast edge of the wetland, their fluty and descending song, full-bodied and haunting, spirals out of the willows. The voice of avatars. No way to pass through the valley without pausing for a veery or any other species of thrush (even a husky-voiced robin). A million years before Tuvan throat-singers learned to mimic the sounds of the Russian steppe, a thrush began to harmonize with itself; to produce paired notes, independently and simultaneously, deep within its voice box. Poignant and evocative, their voices echo across Coyote Hollow and, for a moment, render every other sound less significant.
As if to counterpoint the veeries: a white-breasted nuthatch calls from the pines, a short series of nasal *yanks*, evoking an image of Harpo Marx honking his toy horn.
A female sapsucker drills her maple, third day in a row. Muffled taps nearly inaudible. Imbibes sap. Her mate drums a distant tree, a volley of discordant raps, a territorial proclamation. American redstart (FYO). Male mallards have the main channel of the wetland to themselves. No geese. No mergansers. In the background, a guttural red-winged blackbird. A bittern raising Cain in the northwest corner . . . peepers beware.