juncos

A squirrel enters the cavity in the dead elm and rests its chin on the lip of the hole, watching silently as juncos swirl through the yard.

A light smear of sun in the Monday gray. Birds stir in the tall cedar beside the house: the chip chip of a junco; a tree sparrow’s tseet.

Open water in the ditch. Juncos fly down to drink then up to perch in the snow-laden branches of a dogwood, shaking themselves like dogs.

After the coldest night of the year so far, I’m basking in the bright sunlight, listening to the quiet hops of a junco approaching my chair.

A few small birds are among the sideways-flying snowflakes. From the tops of the pines, two blue jays issue their usual denunciations.

The dark strips laid bare by the snow plow pullulate with juncos. One silhouette is different, bouncier, twitchier: the Carolina wren.

The snowpack glitters in the sun. The soft chirps of foraging sparrows. A single jet trailing a short contrail in an otherwise empty sky.

Snow swirls past the porch like an old film reel dense with the blemishes of time. Juncos chitter. A downy woodpecker’s light, steady taps.

Juncos rustle quietly in the leaves beside the old springhouse. The sun spreads out behind thin clouds like a yolk broken in a pan.

The slow, silent drift of a contrail. Juncos silhouetted by the sun have silver linings, a fact of which they must surely be oblivious.

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.

A pileated woodpecker foraging near the ground suddenly flees yelling into the treetops. Several nearby juncos take off too, just in case.