cardinal

Fog gives way to mid-morning haze. The neighbors’ rooster doesn’t so much crow as moan. I listen to cardinal song and imagine it’s February.

The hole in the dead elm is emitting puffs of dust: a flicker cleans house. Just beyond: scarlet tanager! Then the cardinal’s humdrum red.

Snowstorm. Two male cardinals meet on a white branch and stare at each other. A third red crest flashes in the woods: pileated woodpecker.

Very cold (-20C). A locust tree with ice in its joints creaks and bangs in the wind. Through a hat and two hoods I hear a cardinal singing.

A cold, gray morning. Up in the woods, a chickadee’s two-note song prompts a cardinal to join in. The sun’s hiding place begins to glow.

At last, the ground is white again. The cardinal sheltering in the lilac bush flings the snow from her feathers with a flick of her wings.

Christmas Bird Count! Crow, junco, white-throated sparrow. Three chickadees, two nuthatches and a cardinal. Nothing in the damn pear tree.

Birds forage on the back slope during a break in the rain, the gray juncos among the rocks and the scarlet cardinal in the barberry bush.

The creek has shrunk to a black ribbon between white canyon walls. A cardinal fluttering up from a quick bath shakes loose a shower of snow.

A pair of cardinals chirp back and forth in the lilac. A small buck with antlers in velvet crashes out of the woods, chased by a larger doe.

In the mud bowl of the old robin’s nest that the wind blew out of the cedar tree, a fresh dusting of snow. The cardinal’s monotonous chant.

Early morning sounds like spring, with cardinals, titmice and song sparrows tuning up. A rabbit stands on its hind legs to reach lilac buds.

Cold and overcast. A grooming cardinal reaches under his wings, dining on lice. Juncos peck grit from the road to replenish their gizzards.

The caution of wild things. Male and female cardinal taking turns bathing in the stream. The chipmunk rising furtively to its hind legs.

A catbird taps at the dining room window—the same glass that taunts the female cardinal. A tiny shadow darts through the grass: meadow vole.