I have reclaimed my deck, at last. Spring is my busy season. Since mid-May, I have guided for three birding festivals, a Road Scholars program, two five-day tours and a couple of Maine Audubon events. I have a good sense of what birds are doing everywhere in Maine except in my own backyard.
Today is different. I am sitting and listening. It’s good to be home.
At this moment, I don’t see any actual birds. But above my roof, a northern parula sings. Likewise, a pine warbler is singing next door. From the lake, a loon yodels and an osprey calls. The flycatchers have been noisy all morning. An eastern wood-pewee has been trading calls with a great-crested flycatcher. Eastern phoebes are nesting under my eaves, but they are used to me and barely complain when I walk by.
A bald eagle just flew in, whereupon the loon changed its tune from a territorial yodel to an alarm wail. Now a downy woodpecker is drumming. I can tell it’s a downy because I can clearly hear every tap. It’s slower than the hairy woodpecker’s drum that I heard 15 minutes ago. That drum is so fast that the taps blur together.
I’ve missed this. Mainers live in a special place where the forest talks to us. Sure, every place has its own set of birds and noises. I’m certain that if I were swinging in a Georgia hammock right now, I’d be hearing some birds, too. For sure, I’d hear a Carolina wren, and probably a tufted titmouse, and maybe a cardinal. But that would be about it. So many of North America’s breeding birds fly right over the rest of the country in a hurry to get up here.