Two male woodpeckers rattle at each other from 100 yards apart. A carpenter bee inspects the porch, its drone a perfect generator of unease.
A bluejay imitates a titmouse, blaring the first note of its call, and drops down to drink from the sky-blue trickle in the ditch.
A blue-headed vireo foraging in a birch tree eats as it sings: slow and deliberate, a swallow of insect followed by a few, short notes.
A squirrel climbs to the top of a black cherry tree, samples a budding leaf and dashes back down. The aspens wear a new, gray-green fur.
I look up from my laptop just as a Cooper’s hawk launches from the tulip poplar, flashing through the treetops toward its nest of sticks.
From the greening-up lilac and the blooming forsythia, a steady chatter of goldfinches, their own plumage now turned from green to yellow.
The fierce cries of a male kestrel climbing, fluttering and diving over the corner of the field. A crow hurries over to harass it.
A series of high-pitched howls from down in the hollow: coyotes or children? It’s hard to tell. I watch a silent, nearly motionless crow.
A chickadee carries a piece of gray down into their hole in the tree; its mate follows it in. A minute later it carries the down back out.
Clear—but how clear? I notice a faint haze in the sky near the sun. Off in the woods, the white cloud of another shadbush coming into bloom.
The hammer-blows of a pileated woodpecker opening up an oak. Peonies are sprouting in the garden, an infant’s pink, half-open fists.
A towhee sits on a high branch at sunrise, his breast puffed out against the cold. His rufous feathers briefly match the color of the ridge.
A few degrees above freezing. The sun’s still shining when the snow begins to fall, small flakes sifting down through the flowering trees.
The soft colors of trees just coming into blossom: birch, elm, shadbush. The bright yellow on yellow of a bumblebee visiting the daffodils.
The brown thrasher who’s been improvising steadily for half an hour falls silent. A moment later I hear the cak-cak-cak of a Cooper’s hawk.
A chipping sparrow foraging in the dead grass takes a sudden, balletic leap. A mourning dove coos: hoarse, as if actually in mourning.