Date: 11/10/20 8:32 am From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] November 10, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
6:21 a.m. 34 degrees, wind N 0 mph. Sky: clear with a peach wash, ground fog creeping through lowlands. Moon in the east hollowing out, horns prominent. Permanent streams: five days in the sixties have taken a small but noticeable toll, shallower depth, softened lullaby in concert with nuthatches and chickadees, a woodland whisper. Intermittent streams: reduced to puddles, in need of a transfusion. Wetlands: rising bands of ground fog. A flyover flock of red crossbills, chattering flight calls above the marsh, disappears into the shoreline pines, branches hung with cones. Pond: mist, like the breath of a chickadee, barely visible.
Busy red squirrel, the sound of small feet shuffling through dry leaves. After more than two months of attending squirrels, white pines still have enough cones to attract nomadic red crossbills, which pause to tweeze seeds from between the scales. Red-breasted nuthatches are conspicuous by their absence. Not white-breasted, which haunt the hardwoods with a low, hoarse, dyspeptic *yank, yank, yank.* Fastidiously, a chickadee forages through loose bark of honeysuckle, a run of muted taps . . . woodpecker wannabe.
Three male turkeys strut under the feeders admiring each other, vainglorious boasting of unhinged gamebirds, the *very *self-absorption archers prey on. Aztec domesticated the turkey, local race called Gould's turkey, largest and southernmost of five subspecies of wild turkey, *Meleagris gallopavo*. A concise history of domestication: Conquistadors brought the turkey to Europe in 1519; it reached England in 1524. Henry VIII was the first English king to eat turkey. Edward VII made turkey fashionable for Christmas dinner. In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin ate turkey sandwiches on the moon. In 2020, Thanksgiving plans implode by the moment.
In 1782, Benjamin Franklin declared admiration for turkey in a letter to his daughter. *I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. For truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain and silly, a bird of courage.*
Franklin should see the trio under my feeders. Presumptuously pompous. Dismissively arrogant. Disruptively oblivious of the doves and lonesome quail forced to shuffle around heavy feet. A purple rinse of sunshine pours down the hills, calls back the fog, ignites the morning, encourages me to pause, light on my face, and think of Jordan, my youngest boy. It's his birthday today, a five-star November morning. The next generation, my boys, perpetual gifts. I'm thrilled . . . except for the fact I'm stuck at home, footloose, fancy-free, and socially-distanced from everything but chickadees.