Date: 6/27/20 7:20 am From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] June 27, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
5:12 a.m. 53 degrees, wind N 1 mph, just enough to move mist. Sky: a rose-flush across the south; a sheet of wrinkled clouds with highlights across the east; clear everywhere else. Wetlands filled with horror-film ground fog. Pond fog rolls southeast. In the absence of an otter or of turtles, I consider pine needles. Deposited and marshalled by the wind, needles spiral outward like concentric Etch-a-sketch swirls or a sonogram of a veery; becomes the morning mandala . . . eventually to be rubbed out by the *very* force that put it here. Smoking columns of fog climb out of cloistered valleys, white on green. Red flowering raspberry in flower. Iris in seed. Male flowers of white pine spent, an organic litter ready to invigorate (if we ever get rain). Two bullfrogs call. Green frogs silent. An almost frogless summer in Coyote Hollow. I cherish the big garden toad, the only one I've seen this year.
A hermit thrush offers a musical overtone to the more mundane voices of late June. Veery song spirals out of the fog. The drumbeat of a pileated echoes across the valley. A Nashville warbler hops into view, eye-level on an alder, sings twice. A female yellowthroat, off the nest and actively gathering caterpillars, ushers Nashville warbler out of her immediate neighborhood.
Back home: evening grosbeak chicks are sunflower seeds reconfigured. Already the same size as their parents, chicks camp in front-yard cherry, wings drooping and quivering, bills agape. Pester parents. Mother and father deposit shelled seeds down their throats, one after the other. Songbird gravy train. There's never enough. An immature red-shouldered, using the lilacs as cover, attacks a mourning dove. Dove escapes, leaving behind some down and two tail feathers.
Phoebes fledged barn nest; hang out in red oak by barn door. Parents bring them moths, mostly white.
Department of Misplaced Accolades: In the spring of 1804, in a cave in Mill Grove, Pennsylvania, eighteen-year-old John James Audubon tied silver thread on the legs of five nestling phoebes. Hailed as the *father of bird banding* for the past two centuries, Audubon may have been given credit he never deserved. In the 1830s, many years after he had claimed to have ringed the chicks, Audubon wrote that the following spring two of the five phoebes had returned to Mill Brook wearing silver bracelets. In a recent article in the* Archives of Natural History*, a journal published in Edinburgh University, a Pennsylvania biologist, who had studied the artist's journals, reported that in the spring of 1805, when Audubon had claimed to have seen ringed phoebes, he was in France. I'm not too surprised by the revelations. Audubon got timber rattlesnakes wrong. He painted one with round pupils and a set of teeth in the upper jaw. And, in 1827, while delivering a lecture in Edinburgh, Audubon claimed a Louisiana rattlesnake chased a gray squirrel through the treetops, like a limbless gymnast; and that the snake eventually killed the squirrel by constriction, not venom (pure fiction).
Phoebes, less concerned than I am about their place in the annals American ornithology, beg for moths.