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New-fallen snow at 32. The ridgetops are frosted, I gather by an inch, but down here, it’s only slushy windshields. So much for the first snowstorm of January—yet something is different with the birds today, nevertheless.
At 7:10, a Mourning Dove flies from its roost beyond the creek, over my head and west. I’ve seen one or two come this direction, but not at dawn. They usually fly directly up to the mountains or beyond, and mostly I don’t see them at all. I think mostly they depart when it’s still dark.
As the mountains emerge from twilight, I can see the scars of old roads, marked by snow, reminders of the pitting for building stone and ganister, long ago. Demand for Tuscarora sandstone altered the very shapes of slopes.
No tannery raven today. The replacement is a silent Great Blue Heron, suddenly appearing low over the confluence, from upriver, quickly downstream and out of sight. I’ve not seen one here since the 2nd of the year.
At 7:23, the first Bald Eagle appears, a juvenile, circling up against the frosted woods below the towers, brown against white. Seconds after I lose it, another emerges over the Gap: an adult, off to haunts downriver.
At 7:28, a Common Raven circles silently over Bald Eagle Mountain, to the south of the towers.
The single House Finch descends from the west, as it does every day, from behind my roof. It chimes once, weakly, and then dives somewhere beyond the interstate. Maybe there’s a feeder in one of the last houses of town.
The hush continues after the half hour. An American Robin, flopping down through the air on its arrival, seems like it’s coming from out of town. The first two starlings show up to this part of Tyrone, no circling, no pipping. Many others are arriving in town, but well to the north, over the mountain and past the paper mill, as far away as Northwood.
Rock Pigeons start up their commute through the Gap by 7:40. A group of eight, and a few more flocks of similar size before the hour. Starlings are arriving steadily now in pairs and trios, but soundlessly. A White-breasted Nuthatch hurdles across from right to left through the light, insistent flurry.
Finally, at 7:46, a weakly circling flock of 16 robins emits barely audible chorus of ‘seeps,’ in amongst the busy, silent starlings. As for the House Finches and House Sparrows, they’re not up in the air at all, and they’re also nearly mute.
A blue scruff beater pulls out of a nearby alley, revving to a roar. First gear is all you need! It roars down Pennsylvania and out of hearing.
Yesterday, cawing crows in the light and pleasant dawn. Today, all dark clouds and silence: a single American Crow high, over the snowy crest of Sapsucker Ridge and gone.
An occasional dawn appearance by the Red-tailed Hawk that seems to roost on Bald Eagle Mountain beyond the towers. It circles through the snow-caked trees, out of sight.
Even the Downy Woodpecker, last to sound off, today’s #14, is subdued, quietly ‘peek’-ing.
At 7:54, a Common Raven finally croaks from somewhere.
During a late-morning work break, I spot a hawk on an exposed treetop perch over by the VFW, a few meters from the interstate. Cooper’s. Robins and starlings are all over the sycamores, willows, and poplars to its left, my one-to-three o’clock. On my lunch break, the hawk’s still there.
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