Eurasian Collared-Dove couple

Snow fell yesterday,
for an hour—
vertically, softly,
and soon melted into the grass.
The cold stillness
this morning.
Winter birds
have just begun
to visit the seed
and feeders in the Hackberry.
Red-Bellied Woodpecker,
three Black-Capped Chickadees,
two pair of Cardinals,
a couple of Juncos,
several Sparrows—Harris
and Black-Crowned—
an Eastern Bluebird
and the Eurasian Collared-Dove couple.
Though the Cornell Ornithology Lab’s
Backyard Feeder Watch
began a couple of weeks ago,
the birds here didn’t come to eat
until temperatures dropped below freezing
and snow began to fall.
I’m enjoying the quiet
with the smaller birds;
the big black bird clans
are still out in the pastures.
I catch glimpses of Red-Winged Blackbirds—
a flock in flight
disappearing momentarily
as the whole group makes a
I heard the searing whistle
of hawk and harrier
before I saw them—
Red-Tail Hawks,
wings spread wide,
floating high on the current;
Northern Harriers gliding low
just above the dried prairie grass.

A retreat guest
discovered a teenaged possum
accidentally captured
in a lidless trash can.
standing in a few inches of rain water,
the possum looked pathetic
and she rescued it.
This confirms our decision
to leave chickens and guineas
in the barn now.
Every open barn door,
every step outside
increases their risk.
It takes everything we’ve got
to keep them cooped up—
though it’s a big barn—
on comfortable days.
And I miss their presence
in the yard,
their happy chattering,
even the guineas’ loud squaking
(though sometimes I can hear it,
even in the house!)
But here are the winter birds,
close. And sighting them—
a flash of red,
a tuxedoed tiny bird,
a blue one, cautiously perched on the water bowl,
a black and white checked one with a red head
upside down on the trunk of the Hackberry,
two gray ones, snuggled
on a limb, taking turns
grooming the other gently with their beaks—
thrills. Snow birds,
home for winter.