The Orphaned Woods, Finding A Red Eyed Vireo

I’m far from the orphaned Woods waiting for Jon in an air conditioned doctors office.  It’s a vast antiseptic place all gray and taupe. The anthem is of the woods.

So I thought while I sat here I’d go back to a day last week when I was walking in The Orphaned Woods.  Take a walk there in my mind anyway.

You’re welcome to come along with me…

Knowing we were on our way home, Fate had already wiggled under the gate and was back in the pasture looking for the sheep.  Zinnia, as always, had circled back to find me.

She found me staring at a nest that was hanging about a foot above my head from a tree.

Instead of being wedged between branches, the nest hung a foot above my head from the tree.

I gawked at its beauty.

So finely made, the stands of grass stretched over the “y” shaped branches securing it tightly.  It made me think of paper mache and I wondered what kind of “glue” the bird used who made it.

I only had to tug on the branch a few inches to get a look inside.  I was a little relieved that it was empty.  I would have liked to see eggs, but I wouldn’t have wanted to disturb baby birds. I knew it was best to leave the nest alone, but my curiosity won out.

I didn’t know it at the time but the nest belonged to a Red Eyed Vireo.  I’d never heard of the bird but when I saw pictures of it it looked familiar and I did recognize its song when I heard a recording of it.

The process reminded me of trying to identify a tree.  When I can’t place the bark I look to the leaves or flowers or where it’s growing.

I did know that the tree the nest hung from was an American Hirnbeam. It was one of the first trees I was able to identify in The Orphaned Woods, even before the leaves came in.

The American Hornbeam has a unique bark, that looks like muscle which is appropriate since it is named for its toughness.  The hard wood has been used to make tool handles.

In the early spring, I saw the male catkins that grew from the Hornbeam and more recently I’ve seen some of the female flowers.  I read that they grow slowly and the trees in the Orphaned Woods are all small.  I’ve never seen one with a diameter more than a few inches.

The American Hornbeam the nest was hanging from.

I took a few pictures of the nest and the American Hornbeam.  Zinnia, knowing I was done, ran ahead  of me.  I ducked under the low hanging Alders and pussywillows that are crowding the Gulley Bridge and opened the gate leading to the pasture  where Fate was waiting.

You can listen to the song of a Red-Eyed Vireo here.

American Hornbeam leaf


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