Northern Mockingbird

At a temperature of twelve degrees, yesterday arrived clear and cold in Middlebury.  I took my usual morning walk out South St., past Porter Hospital, and then right on Middlebury College’s compost area driveway.  There had been an overnight dusting of snow, and soon I stopped to look down at some animal tracks.  When I looked up, there was a motionless bird, tucked just inside a brushy thicket beside the road.  At least I assumed it was a bird – it looked more like a white poof-ball that just happened to have a long sleek tail!  This guy really knew how to keep warm – every down feather was on duty, trapping air pockets.  His identification?  The thin dark eye line, size, long tail, and slightly decurved beak led me to Northern Mockingbird, but I sure couldn’t tell from his body shape.  That was hidden in layers of white down!

I continued on – turning right to join the Middlebury Area Land Trust’s Trail Around Middlebury as it skirts the college’s golf course.  I had watched a Pileated Woodpecker in these woods the day before; today I would go on to see a Downy Woodpecker and a Red-bellied Woodpecker – possibly two.  The gift of the day though was that mockingbird, poofed up against the morning cold.

– Carol Ramsayer, January 4, 2012