Cooperstown Crier - Your Source for Hometown News - Cooperstown, Baseball Hall of Fame

Hawthorn Hill

February 7, 2013

Of Carolina wrens and crossbills

(Continued)

Carolina wrens have a beautiful repertoire of songs. They shut down during the winter, so my hope is this little guy will stick around and perform for us come spring and summer. I have seen him dart in and out of a brush pile not far from the house, so perhaps he will set up camp there. Carolina wrens have been known to nest not only in brush piles, but also occasionally in mailboxes and other choice spots close to human abodes. One observer has reported seeing one nest in the folds of hanging wash!

As if having the wren winter with us were not enough, over the course of several days last week a pair of white-winged crossbills breakfasted with us. Not only have we never been visited by a crossbill, their appearance in this neck of the woods is incredibly rare. I checked the recently published Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count for 2012, which also includes data from 1969 to 2012. Two white-winged crossbills! Who knows why they camped out here. I am just glad they did. Knowing full well such a claim might be met with skepticism in some quarters, I clicked off quite a few photographs, a short video, and sent a picture to a birder friend much respected in birder circles. The birder Gestapo has not arrived, but a man has to be sure of his claims! I am a lone birder — actually a lone everything. At any rate, crossbills are welcome here at any time. Ironically, I have often dried evergreen cones in hopes of coaxing out their seeds. My success rate is dismal. Now, if I were a crossbill, with my built in tool I could pry apart those scales with ease and easily pluck out the seeds. If one comes back perhaps we could agree to a mutually beneficial business arrangement.

One never knows what surprises nature has in store for us. We try to solve its mysteries, but the zingers just keep coming. The great nature writer Hal Borland referred to nature’s rhythms as an “enduring pattern,” a dance always the same and never the same at all. Nature’s productions eclipse anything Broadway could ever dream up.

Text Only
Hawthorn Hill
  • A farewell essay More years ago than I care to contemplate, I very sheepishly sent a column in fully expecting it would be rejected. Lo and behold, it appeared shortly thereafter and for almost twenty years now I have have written these bi-weekly columns, first under the heading of "The Timely Writer" for The Freemans Journal and, for the last several years as "Up on Hawthorn Hill" with the Cooperstown Crier.

    July 17, 2014

  • Writing in the age of ad hominisms This past week several readers of these columns have asked about my absence of late. The honest answer is that there are times when the well runs a bit dry and one’s enthusiasm for forcing words on to the page wanes.

    June 26, 2014

  • Robinson novels show grace, intelligence I have been reading the novels of Marilynne Robinson the past several weeks. She writes with such grace and intelligence that I find myself rereading sections several times over to savor their exquisite taste and, in some instances, to make sure I have grasped the meaning of what she has written.

    May 1, 2014

  • Giving aid to Cornell at my window For quite a few years now I have participated in Cornell's Project Feeder Watch.

    April 10, 2014

  • Birder admits he confuses non-birding world I often run into people who ask me what it is about watching and studying birds that birders like me find so appealing.

    March 20, 2014

  • Olympics spirit in need of repair It is time to rethink what the Olympics ought to be about.

    February 27, 2014

  • Late night drive stirs morning man It has been a long time since my last stint at the wheel in the wee hours of the morning. Several days ago the phone rang at 1 a.m. Never a good sign. Within minutes I was in the car heading for Boston. The sun and I got there at about the same time. Fortunately, the late night emergency that required the trip has resolved itself, all is well, and I was able to head back home the following day.

    February 13, 2014

  • Shopping is never fun, simple I am not a shopper. Quick ins and outs are what appeal to me. The sooner the ordeal is over the better.

    January 16, 2014

  • Wondering if Holidays are worth the stress

    January 2, 2014

  • Laziness must be overcome An essayist in a weekly magazine, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, characterizes the past year as exhibiting an uncommon penchant for laziness.

    December 19, 2013