Buttercup Farm Sanctuary in Dutchess County, New York, abuts Wappinger Creek. It’s a paradise for birds, yet not long ago, when snow and ice still reigned, few birds could be found.
With the arrival of warmer weather, that’s all changed. The snow has disappeared to reveal the wreckage left by winter, the creek is running full-bore, and bird sounds are everywhere.
Despite the still bare trees, the birds are more easily heard than seen. Try as I might to look where my ears guide me, I often can't find those devilish little cheeping things I hear so clearly straight above me, or flitting in the bramble, or flying low and landing in clumps of marsh grass.
Canada geese and mallards are easier to spot. The geese sound their arrival with insistent honking. The mallards, which seem always to hear me before I see them, make a great racket, too, propelling themselves upward amid a torrent of quacks.
pileated, but not visible, so who knows? Red-winged blackbirds, however, are all around me. The cacophony of harsh trilling as they gather in the trees is a first sure sign of spring.
So many different bird sounds: high cheeps boomerang across the trees; a pair of wood ducks whistle as they take to the air; an insistent chip, chip, chip with a whistling edge to it—a sound I’ve heard often, but the owner of which I still don’t know; the low coo of mourning doves; the occasional squawk of a blue jay.
red-tailed hawk, flaunting its tail before the sun. Juncos trill and sparrows chip and whistle as they flit out of the bramble to peck on the path. A warble, a flash of blue, and a bluebird lights on a branch.
Amidst all of this, as if responding to a conductor's baton, the marsh breaks out in a chorus of underwater clucking and high sweet peeps. The wood frogs and spring peepers are in full throat—another sure sign of spring.