Half awake at half-light. The dawn chorus starts promptly at 5:00 with field sparrow and towhee, then song sparrow, phoebe, robin. Train horn.
Snow falling fast in silence. A song sparrow pipes up with what generations of birders have heard as “Hip hip hurrah, boys, spring is here!”
Not as cold—nor as clear. A song sparrow runs through his repertoire at half volume and double speed, as if rehearsing.
First light. Near where the stream gurgles under the road, a song sparrow sings a dream version of his usual song.
Squirrel claws scrabbling on bark; song sparrow songs. The sun gleams on the glossy black wings of a vulture skimming the treetops.
Unseasonably warm. The first half of a song sparrow’s song. Two titmice in the crabapple swipe their bills back and forth on their branches.
Slow trickle of water in the ditch. Weak sun. My mom stops by to talk about logging and politics, and how the old field is full of sparrows.
Down in the old corral, a song sparrow sings the first part of his song and stops, twice. The cronk of a raven flying just below the sun.
Squirrels sound the predator alarm, and a song sparrow in the lilac stays motionless for minutes, until I’m half-convinced it’s just a burl.
Cold air, bright sun. A song sparrow in the barberry bush sings continuously for nearly a minute—manic in a way I’ve never heard before.
Overcast. A song sparrow’s song. Chipmunks break their habitual solitude to dash across the hard snowpack, fighting, looking for mates.
As bright as the sun seems, shining through thin cloud, there are almost no shadows. A song sparrow sits in a spicebush, looking all around.
Last night’s ice has melted, but the rain continues. A song sparrow sits in the barberry bush, gorging, emitting a chirp after each berry.
Where the stream fans out beside the springhouse, birds hop down the snowbanks and into the water to bathe: sparrows, juncos, Carolina wren.