The last patch of snow in the yard has shrunk to half the size of a handkerchief. Three chickadees explore the woods’ edge, comparing notes.
It’s raining. The chickadees have fledged and gone, and their hole in the cherry stump seems as empty as a skull’s eye socket.
While the male chickadee calls from the end of a walnut branch, his mate combs the leaves for caterpillars, hovering, hanging upside-down.
The chickadee flies in with food and flies out with a fecal sac. In the meadow, yellow iris like a tour group in a crowd of dame’s-rocket.
The female chickadee perches motionless in the mouth of the den. The male gives her an inchworm and she sits holding it for half a minute.
The hollow tock of a chipmunk calling from within the rock wall. A chickadee perched atop the stump opens his wings wide to shake off rain.
The chickadees take turns carrying insects into their hole, bold, ignoring my presence a few feet away. From the hidden chicks, nary a peep.
Each bird I see has something in its beak: wren—a streamer of dried grass, chickadee—a seed, towhee—a bundle of stalks, grackle—a millipede.
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.
The chickadee hears squirrels chattering alarm at a hawk and freezes in the mouth of her half-finished hole, dark eyes darting all about.
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.
Chickadees are geniuses at staying busy. I watch the usual flock of five investigate the lilac as if they’d never seen it in their lives.