Date: 5/22/20 8:13 am From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] May 22, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
5:08 a.m. 41 degrees, wind ENE 0 mph. Sky: blue with thin, wispy clouds, gilded by sunlight. Ostrich fern unfurled; more like a tapered tail feather than a fiddlehead, well beyond consumption. Cinnamon and interrupted fern are also knee-high. Bracken's first appearance roadside, purple-green. Ash still in bud; still good for spotting warblers. Hazelnut flower buds swell, sheltered by toothy, mint-green leaves. Yellow birch catkins yellow. Brushstrokes of sunlight run down the western flank; chlorophyll runs up, awakening oaks, their leaves as tiny as a mouse ear.
Late yesterday afternoon, my neighbor led me into a wooded crease on the northeastern shoulder of the Hollow, not too far from his house. Halfway up an unimposing pine, a pair of goshawks had wedged their nest, a great burden of sticks, substantial for substantial birds. The female (much the larger) tore through the weave of branches screaming at us. Perched and flew, always screaming. The male, also screaming, appeared and disappeared, never perched. Magisterial birds . . . pale as moonlight. Red-eyes that burn holes in squirrels and hare. Grouse's grim reaper. For me, unalloyed magic giving weight to a landscape without being seen. In fact, until yesterday, I had no idea they were there.
A magisterial gymnast. Gravity assists a peregrine. Goshawks assist themself, scorch nearly 40 mph through the woods, twisting and turning between branches, around trees, diving into brambles. Type A personality, maybe, triple-A. Goshawks are an epitome of hyperactivity, acutely and deadly focused like heat-seeking missiles. A shrew with wings, a hummingbird with appetite, a goshawk burns calories, needs food. A pair hunt many valleys, perhaps entire watersheds and ranges. Which is why they're as rare as Indianhead pennies.
Immediately, these birds loan the Hollow their unimpeachable gravitas. Bitterns beware.
A sapsucker, PowerBar for a goshawk, taps the same maple, the fifth morning in a row. A pair of pine warblers chase each other from spruce to cherry. After the pines leave, a chestnut-sided warbler lands and then sings. A female goldfinch, not impressed, shoos him away.
Some core of desire satisfied, I slowly walk toward home thinking of goshawks; my view of the neighborhood has undergone a seismic shift.