phoebe

It’s damp but not raining. A steady drizzle of birdsong, among which I hear a distant phoebe for the first time since the cold snap hit.

Sunrise, and seven species of birds are calling—but not the phoebe, who flies in and out of the old nest under the springhouse eaves.

Bright sun. From the valley, four gunshots in quick succession, followed by silence. A phoebe circles the house singing, as if sizing me up.

A pool of light among the shadows of the yard: morning sun reflected from an upstairs window. Mare’s tails drift overhead. A phoebe calls.

Clear skies at last. In the middle of the yard, the gurgling of an underground spring beside the dead wild rose bush where a phoebe perches.

Cloudy and cool. The springhouse phoebes hawk flies and mate at the edge of the woods, trailed by two fledglings with beaks agape.

The old crabapple next to the springhouse is in full bloom, a mass of shocking pink abuzz with insects. The sharp snap of a phoebe’s beak.

Red-winged blackbirds calling in the fog. The springhouse phoebe appears to have found a mate. They take turns fluttering under the eaves.

Sunny and warm. A rabbit emerges from its burrow to graze on dead grass. Chickadees singing “fee-bee” are interrupted by an actual phoebe.

Cold and bright. A phoebe lands on a branch overhanging the road and flicks his tail. I wait for his eponymous call, but he merely chirps.

It’s cloudy, but the forest understorey glows with autumn color. A phoebe hawks flies from the spicebush, gurgling with satisfaction.

Droplets of fog, back-lit by the sun, stream upward into the blue like reverse rain. At the woods’ edge, a migrant phoebe clears its throat.

A phoebe flies back and forth between the sunlit treetops, criss-crossing the moon. I can hear the clicks of its bill as it catches insects.

Trees sway and gyrate under a blue-gray sky. In a lull between gusts, a lost leaf flutters down out of the clouds. The phoebe calls.

A pair of phoebes fly in and out of the old nest under the springhouse eaves. Done foraging, a groundhog barrels full-tilt toward its den.