My corgi Millie and I are standing on West 11th Street outside Tartine. Millie is looking down to see if perchance a Saturday brunch frite has been liberated from someone’s plate. I’m looking up at an elm tree with a hole in the bark that a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker pair seem to be examining for nesting real estate. Wouldn’t that be grand for the neighborhood! The red cockaded male noses around, then flies, white-banded wings blurring, back across the street to his typewriter peck-peck-pecking. Next, the slightly less flamboyant female also peruses the branch and flies off for more communiques on her typewriter. Maybe there will be little sapsuckers and toy typewriters tapping later in the summer.
Not finding a French fry or a bit of a three-cheese omelet, Millie pulls to move on.
A small flock of gray and white Juncos browse through the fresh mulch around a street tree and an ebullient Tufted Titmouse passes us heading west with a grass tuft in his bill, up, up to the cornice of a brownstone. More homemaking.
Just past the corner of Bleecker Street, a crush of shopping bag festooned tourists ogle gazillion dollar baubled, bangled, and beaded shoes while inches above their unknowing heads a Black-throated Blue Warble with the sartorial snap of jaunty white pocket squares on his wings shops for bejeweled bugs. There’s a rainbow-collared Northern Parula too! These tourist warblers are on their way from winter vacations in Peru and pausing here before family time in the Adirondacks.
As we navigate through the current of foraging shoppers, there is a nearly continuous “…it’s a corgi…is that a corgi?…what a cute corgi!” At each murmured “corgi,” Millie looks around as though that’s her name.
In May, I’m always on the lookout for festively costumed migrating birds. The twitch of a branch rewards me with, wait, what is it? Yes, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak with his macho not-afraid-to-wear-flaming-pink ascot sparkling against his natty black and white suit. Bobbing among the little-green-ear leaves of a gingko tree – now that’s a bird to write home about.
High above the retail fray, the dark dot of a crook-winged Cormorant flies east across Manhattan. This is a surprisingly frequent sight. Where is it heading? Maybe he has a condo on U Thant Island in the East River. A mystery. I bet if I gave Millie a cookie, she could solve it.
Crossing Christopher Street, the avian playback programmed to shuffle is remarkable – some chattering Chickadees, a few territorial Blue Jays (as always), Robins cheerfully singing out from courtyard trees, a Cardinal whistling from somewhere, the starlings adding their clicks and chuckles, and from a streetlight a Mockingbird is replaying them all.
Turning onto Grove Street, fluty chortling directs my gaze up once more. On a twig, a luscious brown Hermit Thrush is singing. His spotted breast and russet rump and tail illuminate his ethereal song. I’m glad that he stopped here. Oh Millie, there he goes!