Date: 12/17/20 8:21 am
From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...>
Subject: [VTBIRD] December 17, 2020: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
7:06 a.m. 16 degrees, wind NW 4 mph. Sky: the hushed world of a small-flake
snowstorm, twelve-inches and falling. Visibility, less than two hundred
yards. Christmas-card landscape, streaked in white—far-off trees vague
allusions, hillsides rendered by a seductive and suggestive screen of snow.
Nearby trees: dark limbs, white outlines. Here and there, puffs of snow
slide off pine boughs, the morning's cold breath. Permanent streams: snow
on ice muffles sound, trace gurgles. Wetlands: almost a white-out. Reeds
merge into a beige-white mat, and, across the marsh, a hint of distant
evergreens. Within the pines and spruce, hidden owls *listen* for
red-backed voles. Outside, the red-tailed hawk seems to have moved south
(hopefully, beyond the storm path) . . . tough for a hawk to hunt rodents
in deep snow. Pond: an expanse of undisturbed white.

Red squirrel bounds across the unplowed road. Vulnerable until it reaches a
tree. Old deer and coyote tracks fill in. The second morning in succession,
no red-breasted nuthatches in the woods. White-breasted walking down white
ash, white on white through a screen of white. Chickadee in the alders. The
significance of a tiny bird, unperturbed by falling snow. Alone on the edge
of the marsh . . . effervescent as ever.

At the feeders: hairy and downy on opposite sides of the suet. The
belligerence of jays, crests erect, rude but beautiful. A mob of eleven, a
rowdy gathering in the front yard. Acorns unavailable under deep snow.
Chase each other off perches. Cherry and ash limbs. Off the ground below
the sunflower feeders. Off the suet cage. Off pines limbs, which release
descending whiffs of snow. Patiently, three chickadees, two titmice, and
one red-breasted nuthatch take a turn on the feeders. Sedate. Tolerant.
Well-mannered. Everything blue jays aren't . . . but a world without jays
would be a dull world indeed.
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