One night as I lay awake at the Olde Homestead, I resorted to counting birds (the sofa bed has seen better days.) Including the birds I’ve seen and the birds I’ve had reliably reported to me, there are over eighty species on the list for this little farm.

We’ve been visited by Snowy Owls and a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Snow Geese migrate over; Solitary and Spotted Sandpipers stop and sojurn awhile. Breeders range from Red-tailed Hawks to Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Eastern Kingbirds to American Woodcocks, Redstart to Yellowthroat to Indigo Bunting. House Wren. Barn Swallow. Field Sparrow. Wood Thrush.

And now one more. I wandered, like a cloud, not minding being alone at all, up the shaded lane where back in the day I’d seen my first Rose-breasted Grosbeak. To my left, a maple-beech woodlot; to my right, crabapple-willow scrub that faded into a touch-me-not studded seep that yielded in turn to a hayfield half overgrown with wild strawberries.

What caught my attention was a Catbird causing a ruckus. This isn’t exactly unheard-of behavior for a catbird, but this one was really going at it. Soon another one joined in, and then a House Wren, and then a Northern Flicker winged over to join them.

It was a mob scene!

The focus of their ire was deep in the center of a dense, thorny shrub. I bushwhacked my way over, but couldn’t get a look at whatever it was. I just had to content myself with the birds that it attracted (poor me.)

Wrens were popping up everywhere, as loud and kinetic as banner ads. The Catbirds kept whining. A Hairy Woodpecker joined in, and a bunch of Robins, and even an unusually bold and forthcoming Wood Thrush.

As I got closer, some of the birds started eying me askance. A Red-eyed Vireo nearly landed on me in its zeal. And then there were the Warblers. Three appeared, but one disappeared again in a quick yellow-brown blur.

But the other two were lovely male Hooded Warblers (especially thrilling since this is a species I regularly miss for no good reason.) Their hoods were strong and sharp across the top but bit fuzzy around the chin – I assume the result of molt, since the effect was nearly the same on both birds.

I watched them until it became obvious that whatever was bugging and being bugged by them wasn’t
going to make a break for it, and then decided to stop bugging all concerned myself. Still, it was with a lighter step that I headed for home, and not just because of the blood I’d lost to mosquitoes. After thirty years, a casual walk around the Olde Homestead could still show me something new.

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