Date: 6/14/20 5:27 am
From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...>
Subject: [VTBIRD] June 14, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
5:00 a.m. 39 degrees, wind S 1 mph. Aspen leaves fluttering; oaks and maple
oblivious. Sky: lines of darkish clouds in the southwest rose-tinted; clean
and blue in the north . . . but not for long. Dawn sky kaleidoscopic,
morphs by the moment; clouds elongate, disassemble, disappear. Pond sheds
heat; thin tendrils of mist rolling southeast, an emaciation of moisture,
and then gone . . . called back to the sky. Mist in the wetland *even*
thinner; beyond subtle softens of colors on the far shore like looking at
the morning through a screen door; directly over the wetland, just above
the treetops, a lost cloud stalls . . . not much substance either. But, on
the other hand, the whole visible course of the North Branch of
Ompompanoosuc substantiated by mist.

Overly expressive birds: red-eyed vireo and ovenbird. More subdued: least
flycatcher, black-throated blue warbler, Nashville warbler, chestnut-sided
warbler; winter wren, veery, hermit thrush,swamp sparrow, white-throated
sparrow, song sparrow. A turkey, a little late to the procreative game,
calling and strutting . . . preparing for the 2021 draft. A distant loon
wails, haunts the morning the way nothing else can.

A family of motormouth blue jays in and out of the hardwoods; chicks
begging and gesturing, parents braced for days of provisioning, screaming
what may amount to avian profanity . . . their emancipation a week or more
away. Blue jays are the single most important distributors of oak trees; or
said another way, the ranges of eastern and midwestern North American
oaks—northern red oak, southern red oak, swamp red oak, scarlet oak, white
oak, swamp white oak, black oak, post oak, pin oak, chinquapin oak,
chestnut oak, willow oak, overcup oak, basket oak, bur oak, shingle oak,
blackjack oak, scrub oak—came north ten thousand years ago out of refuges
in the deep and unglaciated south in the bills and crops of jays, hungry
and impartial foresters, reshufflers of the continent's vegetation. Blue
jay disseminator of acorns, plant them here and there, one at a site, just
under the earth, sometimes miles away from the parent tree. Gray squirrels,
which get much too much credit as foresters, bury nuts deeper and in piles
close to the parent tree.

Many years ago, Les Line, then the editor and chief of *Audubon*, ran a
series of photographs of a blue jay standing on the rim of a Baltimore
oriole nest. The jay firmly gripped the edge, leaned far down into the
stocking nest and pulled out a hapless chick, which I have always assumed
was fed to its own mob of fledglings. Some people just don't like blue
jays. They think they're rude and aggressive. What they are is intelligent,
resourceful, gregarious, loquacious, supercilious, bellicose, adaptable .
. . more or less, just like us.
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