One of my favorite places to walk along the old mill pond near my cottage
I took a walk today in the late afternoon sunshine. The breeze still has a bite to it but that has not deterred the birds that have come back from their winter quarters to summer in the Berkshires. Flocks of robins searched for worms in every open meadow and great knots of starlings swooped and swirled in tandem before settling in the treetops.
My feeder is still frequented by juncos and chickadees and a pair of cardinals that has wintered over. The male is dressed in scarlet and he whistles outside my window just before sunrise. In fact, I wake every morning now to birdsong, and will for months to come. It is delightful music with which to start the day. It does not matter if the changeable weather brings sunshine or snow flurries – the cardinal faithfully drops his liquid notes into the morning stillness.
All the birds are pairing up. I watched a couple of nuthatches chase each other up and down the trunk of a huge maple at the edge of the road and the hedges were full of twittering as small birds darted after one another. Up on the hill, a pair of bluebirds danced in the air ahead of me, a springtime waltz on the wing. This time of year, the blue jay intersperses its raucous call with a sweeter song, a softening of the voice unexpected and lovely for such a noisome bird. Even the crows make a murmuring sound quite unlike their usually harsh cry. Only the geese, gliding in on weary wings, honk and holler in their loud and familiar way. They have returned to the pond in full force. Hundreds of them float on the water, drifting off in pairs to search out nesting sites along the banks. They gabble softly to each other, only now and then breaking into strident cries
On a small inlet a pair of mallards floated serenely side by side. Their paddling feet left small, wavering wakes behind them. Above them, a red-tailed hawk watched with disinterest, its eyes searching for movement in the dried leaves at the water’s edge. It sat so motionless that it almost seemed painted on the branch. The longer hours of sunlight and the warmer weather will soon coax the smaller songbirds from their winter habitat back into ours. It won’t be long before the woods and hedgerows are brimming with song and all my days will be filled with birds.