Five Bluebirds in Bare, Windy Branches

On the first day of the new year, five Eastern Bluebirds sat in the bare branches of a tree in our front yard. The weather was cool and very windy, with gusts shaking the trees and rustling the dry brown leaves still clinging to white oaks. After a rainy, warm and foggy New Year’s Eve, the sky was gradually clearing and becoming blue and sunny, and temperatures were falling. Against the damp, drab background of winter shrubs and grass, the colorful Bluebirds looked like a preview of spring. Or maybe they could be seen as a good omen for the year ahead.

They flew in silently together, one female and four males, and sat widely spaced apart on the low branches of a pecan tree. They clung to the branches, their feathers rumpled by the strong, chilly wind. It rushed through pines and bare branches with great roars at times, and the Bluebirds swayed and rocked, keeping their balance as the branches trembled and bounced. Every now and then, in a lull, one would fly off to catch an insect in the air, or to snap up something from the grass, then return to its spot.

The Bluebirds remained quiet, but through the blowing wind, shaking leaves, and creaking branches, I could hear the small, sharp calls of Yellow-rumped Warblers, the chuck-chuck of a Red-bellied Woodpecker, the sibilant calls of White-throated Sparrows, the squeaky complaint of one Robin, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet’s stuttering chatter, and even the high, thin notes of a Golden-crowned Kinglet. Two Turkey Vultures tilted low over the cul de sac in front of our house, and disappeared over the line of trees in the woods beyond.

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