Date: 6/16/20 7:36 am
From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...>
Subject: [VTBIRD] June 16, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
5:07 a.m. 43 degrees, wind S 1 mph, only aspen tree knows the wind moves.
Sky: without a cloud; bland uniformity except for a pinkish wash across the
south. Mist over wetlands thickens and disperses. Dawn belongs to crows and
robins, which are everywhere and noisy. Fractious fledglings beg and chase.
Having eaten something gooey, male robin wipes bill on a branch; then, he
goes back to work.

A chatty house wren in the pines enunciates every note as though giving
dictation. Pileated, close to the road, tattoos a hollow tree; hammering
resounds across the valley; second distant woodpecker answers, barely
audible. Yellowthroat and chestnut-sided warbler, unconcerned about
social-distancing, side-by-side in the same chokecherry. Yellowthroat
chips; chestnut-sided sings. A deer bounds through woods, tail up. Dogs at
attention; ears up (sort of).

In the wetlands: red-shouldered hawk perches on the last snag standing, a
barkless white pine, limbs long broken. The hawk's russet undersides . . .
perfect camouflage; an extension of weathered trunk. Its incandescent
vision fixed on reeds and muddy channels, looking for the subtlest of
movement; perhaps, a breath taken too deeply. The hawk flies to pine on the
western shore; perches mid-tree, mid-limb, and continues surveillance. If I
didn't have binoculars and hadn't known where to look I would never have
noticed the hawk. Certain perches suit its interest, providing me with a
level of passable predictability that keeps me checking snag and pine
limbs. Because hawks are mobile favorite perches accrue over a wide area.
When a red-shouldered hawk hunts Coyote Hollow I know where to look . . .
but it's not always here. It hunts several wetlands in several valleys.

Timber rattlesnakes, which I've spent *some* time watching, are the epitome
of predictable. During a timber rattlesnake's lifetime, which may stretch
half a century or more, there is a ninety-nine percent probability that it
won't switch dens. Year after year, the female births and sheds almost
always on the same site. Males know this. I know this. And hawks that hunt
rattlesnakes know this. A red-shouldered hawk watches over a vast
landscape, a bird of eminence that sees the world from an unrestricted
perspective. Hawk and valley entwine. The valley inhabits hawk as surely as
I inhabit the valley. Both of us transparently dependent on the same
landscape . . . hawk for physical survival; me for spiritual survival.
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