An eastern phoebe, sign of spring, in the oak branch--pumping its tail...as phoebes do--I saw on Sunday. The keening of wood ducks is common these days as they jet along the air stream, following the river channel. The mallards swim in pairs, and the emerald-headed males fight now and then, splashing with bluster, but not much risk. The mourning doves--who would suspect?--are positively noisy come sun-up, but the great-horned owls are longest at their songs, hooting all night.
These are the celebrities of spring, but I will miss the heroes of winter, juncos chief among them. The cardinal like a red star, who kept company with me through the cold, remains. He sings a new tune, as I do, of new things, like nests and mating, the earlier--and the later--sun, the warmth of days. "Raider, raider, raider," is his song, and "sweet, sweet, sweet, sweetie-sweet." Likely it was he who taught the birds to tweet. A carolina wren perched on my knee, making me giddy, and I am as thankful for stay-at-home wrens in spring as for the newly-arrived phoebes.
Thoreau wrote, "The Harivansa says, 'An abode without birds is like a meat without seasoning.' Such was not my abode, for I found myself suddenly neighbor to the birds." In Thoreau's case, his move to Walden brought him new and sudden neighbors, but it happens much the same each spring when we move from indoors to out.