The March sun wasn’t yet warm enough to slump the snow when the Evening Grosbeaks descended on Louise’s feeding station. She was watching out her kitchen window, as she always did, a cup of strong coffee in hand, her reward after her vigorous bird walk at dawn, a habit of forty years that she had not yet given up, even on the cusp of ninety.
The flock of black and yellow birds that mobbed her tray of sunflower seeds was larger than she had seen in years, hordes of them. For decades, she’d been collecting data on the Evening Grosbeak for her ornithologist friend Doris—how many came to her feeder, male or female, when and where they nested, how long the eggs took to hatch and the young to fledge. She made a mental note to check her records to see if the numbers this spring were truly record-breaking or just an impression sparked by the thrill of such an influx of birds massing in her forest.