The Song of a White-breasted Nuthatch – and a Honeybee on a Dandelion

A little further up the road, a good many birds were scattered out in another yard – more Robins, Chipping Sparrows, Bluebirds, Yellow-rumped Warblers, a couple of Starlings – and one very fine male Rusty Blackbird with yellow eyes and picture-perfect black plumage with a rippled shadow of rusty-brown across the shoulders and back.

A Northern Flicker called kleer! from the woods. A Pine Warbler trilled its song. Two Brown-headed Nuthatches chattered squeakily in some pines. A flock of Cedar Waxwings flew over, scattering their high, thin calls like rain. Several Yellow-rumped Warblers flew from limb to limb in the trees, calling check as they flew. One handsome male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker worked quietly on the trunk of a pecan tree.

Clouds had moved in and begun to cover most of the sky as I came to the summit of a hill, with wooded yards on both sides and a power cut beyond the back yards on one side of the road. A fluctuating nasal call came from the edge of the woods not far away, a long, repeated ahn-ahn-ahn-ahn-ahn-ahn. I knew it was a White-breasted Nuthatch, but it wasn’t until I looked it up later that I realized it wasn’t a call really, but the song of a White-breasted Nuthatch.

Along the roadside, bluets, purple henbit and yellow dandelions were all in bloom, and in one lush dandelion flower, a honeybee combed through the petals. Because honeybees face such serious threats, their populations shrinking and in peril, I’ve begun to feel it as a small sign of hope whenever I see one, and it’s strange – something that used to be so common, but we can no longer take for granted.

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