A window unto nature

  I had one of those stare out the window moments. Sometimes, it’s just the thing to do. Most of the world is out there somewhere. Daydreaming delights me and a window offers fascinating things well worth contemplating. Each gaze brings amazement. Each glimpse brings wonder. During this particular look, the signs of spring were outnumbered by the signs of March--a March made of both winter and spring. Cold and snow prevailed. Spring could have been just a myth.

  Yet, the day was decorated in birds and the morning had secrets to share. Goldfinches had begun to be golden birds once again as their plumages moved from olive drab to yellow. The bills of starlings had turned yellow for spring. Canada geese honked like hounds on a fresh trail as they flew overhead. House finches sang beautiful songs that once made them caged birds sold as Hollywood finches. The red of the handsome males was good to see. They can be orangish or yellowish, too, depending upon diets. Robins fueled by testosterone tussled in territorial disputes. It seemed unnecessary at such an early date, but they must know what they are doing. My mother claimed that a returning robin needed three snows on its tail before spring could arrive. Red-osier dogwood showcased its red veins of spring. Also called red twig dogwood or red willow, it brightens the grayish landscape.

  The dawn chorus, an inspiring demonstration of vocal athleticism, will begin in earnest before long. It’s when birds, mostly males, declare territories and intentions. Emily Dickinson, described it this way, "The birds begun at four o’clock— Their period for dawn— A music numerous as space And measureless as noon."

  Studies have shown that birds sing louder to overcome traffic noise. It’s difficult to escape manmade sound.

  I watched and heard a downy woodpecker hammer upon a hollow tree. That’s a cry for spring. The downy is the most common woodpecker species to visit a backyard bird feeder. A woodpecker isn’t the most melodious of singers, so it uses its pointed bill to produce sounds on resonant surfaces. Woodpeckers play percussion instruments in accompaniment to the singers of the dawn chorus.