Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Black Vultures

On a cold, clear, sunny morning, with the first hard frost of the season, the front yard was quiet except for the tseets of White-throated Sparrows hunting on the ground, out of sight, beneath the shrubs and wax myrtles. The trees in the background, across the road, glowed in muted fall colors, crusty yellow, faded green, dull orange and brown, with the russet tops of several tall Red Oaks rising above the others against a cloudless, deep blue sky.

A pair of Brown-headed Nuthatches arrived, calling squeaky-dee, and spent a few minutes on one of the feeders. A male Downy Woodpecker came quietly to another. A Red-breasted Nuthatch traveled quickly through the branches of the oaks, making only a soft, low, twittering sound. A Red-bellied Woodpecker rattled and a Carolina Wren fussed in the woods.

Above me, two Black Vultures soared in perfect silence against the perfect blue of the sky, white wing patches flashing silver in the sun, framed by the dense, gold-green leaves of a Water Oak. The Vultures sailed across the sky, wings outspread, barely seeming to move but circling and crossing paths as if in a dance, and in the clear light, cold air, crisp colors, and stillness in the leaves on the trees, which will soon be gone, it felt like a moment suspended in time.


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