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.
A dry ticking of junco alarm calls from all directions. A small hawk—Cooper’s or sharp-shinned—hurtles between the snow-plastered trees.
Is it my imagination, or do the juncos seem especially restless this morning? The distant roar of a military jet. A pileated taps on an oak.
Juncos rearrange themselves in the lilac—the scrabble of their feet. If nothing else, this winter has brought great stretches of silence.
The only spots of bare earth are in the plowed driveway. When I stand up, they erupt in wings, seeding the snowy yard with brown sparrows.
Sunlight softened by high clouds. A great stillness, punctuated by the flutter of sparrow wings and a chickadee singing its spring song.