Skip to main content

The Mast-Head: The Hangover Bird

Wed, 05/01/2024 - 18:00

What a pleasure it is to be awake and outside listening to the birds carry on as the day begins. So many of them call out from the trees and marsh that it is nearly impossible for casual birders to distinguish one from the other.

But as the day unfolds, they begin to settle down to the business of feeding, squabbling among themselves, and who knows what else. There are some holdouts, though, that do not shut up and get on with it.

For some days, midmorning to this early riser, I had heard a bird calling what sounded to me very much a clear “trick or treat,” though I had no idea what it could be. The turkeys were done loudly courting in the middle of the road, and the wild operatic chorus had ended. “Trick or treat. Trick or treat. Trick or treat.” (Does birdsong need punctuation?) Grabbing the binoculars, I slipped outside and peered around a corner of the house.

My Halloween friend was about midway up in a maple, just above where the tom turkeys had been a short time earlier, fanning their tail feathers. One very rarely sees wild turkeys making love; though they will court in open places, it is my opinion that they sneak off into the brush to do the actual deed. The trick-or-treater was more or less all-over gray, with a somewhat pointed crest at the back of its head — a tufted titmouse. The bird book describes its usual call as “Peter peter peter peter,” but my little friend had something else in mind, nudge nudge, wink wink.

I am happily a morning person, but birds tend to get annoying as the day goes on. Case in point, Exhibit A, is the American robin, which I think of as the hangover bird for those mornings long ago when I might have lain abed, trying to sleep off a headache but forced to listen to . . . what the hell do robins say, anyway? Take it from me, approaching noon on an otherwise fine spring day, home sick or, really, having had too much to drink the night before, the last thing you want at your window is a piercing “tweek tuttle tweedly twit teedle.”       

If there weren’t already plenty of other good reasons to stay off the sauce, you know, this one would be enough.

Your support for The East Hampton Star helps us deliver the news, arts, and community information you need. Whether you are an online subscriber, get the paper in the mail, delivered to your door in Manhattan, or are just passing through, every reader counts. We value you for being part of The Star family.

Your subscription to The Star does more than get you great arts, news, sports, and outdoors stories. It makes everything we do possible.