The chickadees take turns carrying insects into their hole, bold, ignoring my presence a few feet away. From the hidden chicks, nary a peep.
A chickadee lands on the cherry snag and chitters till his mate emerges from the hole. He gives her a bit of food and they fly off together.
A catbird mews from within the crabapple’s scandalous maroon. It starts to rain. A chickadee carries a worm into its hole in the stump.
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.
Only the tail-tip of the chickadee now protrudes from the dead cherry tree, and I can barely hear it hammering at the rotten heartwood.
While one chickadee digs out their den, pecking at the rotten cherry wood, its mate waits atop the stump, grooming its pale breast feathers.
Back from migration, a Louisiana waterthrush sings above the trickle of a stream. Chickadees excavate a den hole in the dead cherry stump.
A titmouse inspects the undersides of several limb-stumps on the dead cherry snag, its cap wobbling. Shadows fade in and out. It’s cold.
The lace-work of leafless treetops against the clouds. No wonder the dead cherry with its cluster of six limb-stumps reminds me of despair.
A titmouse hops from one limb-stump to another on the newly truncated cherry snag. Five minutes later, a brown creeper scoots up the bole.
A downy woodpecker lands in the dead cherry tree. She trills and the rotten limbs tremble, taps and they make hardly a sound.
A hummingbird sits on the tip of one of the dead cherry’s few remaining twigs, like a fat green leaf with the stem pointing the wrong way.
Two chickadees take turns excavating a hole in the last remaining limb of the dead cherry, their small bills tearing at the rotten wood.
Another of the dead cherry’s limbs broke off in the night, leaving just one more forked limb and a cluster of stumps, scabrous with fungi.
The Carolina wren goes from querulous chirps to full-throated denunciations from the top of the dead cherry tree. But the snow continues.
Home after a week away, what’s changed? The song sparrows are back, ebullient as ever, and the dead cherry has shed another shaggy limb.