Date: 2/22/21 7:23 am From: Ted Levin <tedlevin1966...> Subject: [VTBIRD] February 22, 2021: Coyote Hollow, Thetford Center
6:36 a.m. (sunrise two minutes earlier than yesterday). 10 degrees (a
cellphone reading but feels colder), wind NW 0 mph. Sky: cloud clogged,
blue-gray and spitting snow—tiny flakes, eye-rubbing micro-static . .
. *no* television
to bang or rabbit-ear antennae to adjust. Permanent streams: upper, mink,
on assignment in the marsh, out of the woods, down the bank, through the
culvert. Dutifully, followed the brook, a line of paired tracks; lower, a
silent stagnation, Dog Day bland. Wetlands: almost monochromatic,
evergreens dark, flat, dull but pileated moved to drum. Out of the dreary
woods, from high in the bole of a dead pine, a blur of audible activity,
approximately fifteen beats per second (*much *too quick to separate
without a recording device), lasts nearly three seconds. Behind me,
provoked, second pileated drums, shorter roll, not as resonant. Perhaps,
the female. Background vocals, in the hemlocks, above the southern corner
of the marsh, roving blue jays honk and scream, strident *jaaay, jaaay. *Pond:
in preparation to skate, someone started to shovel the deep, crusted, dense
snow, then went home.
Maple attendant, a white-breasted nuthatch, spurred to sing. Tufted
titmouse calls in the alder, a short series of slow, drawn-out *dee*s, like
a medicated chickadee.
Hairy rapidly (and I assume joyfully) drums from a resonant limb. Cadence
(or raps per second) up to twenty-six. Pauses between each beat
infinitesimally short. Too short to separate audibly . . . I almost feel
the air vibrate—a woodland tuning fork. Drums when moved, any time of year.
Both sexes drum: to define and defend territory (healthier than fighting),
often along the borders; as part of courtship and bonding; to solicit sex;
for platonic companionship (a technique that might be useful if Covid keeps
us house-bound for five more minutes); to communicate over a distance; and
. . . for no apparent reason.
Without sophisticated equipment to measure the almost unmeasurable. What's
my only recourse? Listen and feel, enjoy the little woodpecker in the
hardwoods express himself. The sacrosanctity of tuning in. The dogs
understand . . . sit at my feet.