scarlet tanager

Cool and clear, with sunlight just beginning to gild the treetops. From the woods’ edge, the plucked-string call of a migrant tanager.

Cool with a scrim of cloud. From high in the canopy, a scarlet tanager’s hoarse song—the first in weeks. A sudden sweet smell I can’t place.

Another bright sunny morning—meaning the shadows are deep and full of unseen singers: scarlet tanager, cerulean warbler, even a wood thrush.

The leaves on the sapling tulip tree are already big enough to blow backwards. A tanager’s plucked-string call. It begins to sleet.

The sun emerging from mid-morning haze makes the rain-damp leaves shine. A scarlet tanager sings just out of sight at the wood’s edge.

An early-morning storm rumbles off to the north. Flashes of scarlet: tanager at the woods’ edge, ruby-throated hummingbird at the beebalm.

Just audible over the tractor: a tanager’s hoarse song. The male flicker flies out of its nest hole carrying an offspring’s white fecal sac.