Our friend Linda visited us in Vermont in early July. She is not a birder but takes notice of birds and has learned a few songs common in our Arlington, Massachusetts, neighborhood. We were walking down our road when Bob and I heard a Hermit Thrush singing at some distance into the forest. Despite its distance and the comingling with songs of other birds, including Ovenbird, White-throated Sparrow, Black-capped Chickadee, Blue-headed Vireo, and Blackburnian Warbler, the song was distinctive among the others and immediately grabbed our attention. At first, Linda could not pick out the thrush’s song, her ears catching only the louder and closer songs of other birds. Several minutes passed, and finally, Linda said she heard the thrush. Once focused on the melodic song, she said she could easily pick it out. I was struck again by how birders are so attuned to bird songs, able to easily identify multiple birds at a time, or switch focus from a nonbird-related task when suddenly jolted by a song they recognize or love. It took Linda several minutes but once she found the song in the mix, she could easily hear the bird. Our ears are so trained to listen for birds that we hear them even when not thinking about them at all. Bob and I often talk about how some species seem to arrive all at once in spring as evidenced by one day hearing no song and the next day hearing a particular bird everywhere. A case in point is the Alder Flycatcher. This bird is common in Orleans County in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. We have often found that they seem to arrive overnight and the next day we may hear a dozen or more individuals during a short drive when we did not hear a single bird the day before. Likewise, they seem to shut up at once, and by early July, it is rare to hear an Alder Flycatcher even though they have gone nowhere. Other birds may quiet but then pick up again. This summer, we noticed that Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were drumming away in May and early June, then completely quieted. We thought that was it for the season for the sapsucker drumming but during the second week of July, we heard multiple birds drumming around our property for several days. These birds typically have one brood a season and thus, we were not sure what was behind the renewed drumming. I immensely enjoy working outside on our Vermont property in the early summer, with black flies mostly gone and birds still singing. I move about quietly, following ropes that I have set up around the yard to navigate to gardens, wood piles, and structures. This past May, we received five cords of split wood dumped from a delivery truck into our yard. We whittled away at the large pile over the course of two months by taking wheelbarrows full of wood back and forth to a woodshed where I stacked the wood for the coming winter. Given how carefully I have to move to make sure I don’t get disoriented or lose track of where the guiding rope is, it takes me a long time to carry out my tasks. But it takes even longer because I so often stop to soak in what I am hearing: a drumming Pileated Woodpecker, the plaintive cry of a soaring Broad-winged Hawk overhead, Ovenbirds from multiple directions, Golden-crowned Kinglets competing with Blackburnian Warblers in the coniferous canopy, a House Wren singing his heart out all day long for days on end, and Winter Wrens calling from deep in the woods. I cannot get enough of these guys. Quiz: What family of birds can reduce its body temperature, sometimes dramatically, overnight to conserve energy? Answer below. Our friends Pat and John (“Coop”) Cooper were recently enthralled by Massachusetts (now Ohio) birder Sean Williams, who lay on the snow outside their living room windows on a cold day last winter to observe and photograph Common and Hoary redpolls coming to the Cooper’s feeder. Sean lied prone for hours, carefully observing the birds. The three struck up a friendship and escalated the Cooper’s interest in birds. Now we are thrilled to get reports from them about birds they see in their yard, including nesting Cliff Swallows under their roof eaves and teetering Northern Harriers gliding across their meadow. The passion of a birder can awaken interest in birds for those who experience that passion. Do you ever notice how often you work hard to find a bird for your year list and then, once spotted, they suddenly show up all the time? This year for Bob, it was the Green Heron. We have a favorite birding location, River Road in Coventry, Vermont, that we bird frequently. The area includes extensive wetlands and small ponds perfect for Green Herons. Despite dozens of visits to River Road between April through late July, a Green Heron was never among our sightings. Then, on July 20, Bob spotted a Green Heron flying from a small stream across a field in the nearby community of Barton. Having finally gotten his year Green Heron, it was entirely predictable that on August 2, on only his second visit to River Road since spotting the Barton bird, a Green Heron sat in plain view by the side of the road, making a ruckus before flying away. I predict he will see Green Herons multiple times before they head south. Quiz Answer: Hummingbirds. A recent Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) program focused on fascinating behaviors and evolutionary adaptations of hummingbirds. As you may know, hummingbirds have the highest metabolic rate of any vertebrate, with heart rates of up to 1,265 beats a minute. In order to reduce the metabolic demand on their bodies overnight, they enter a state of torpor where their body temperatures and heart rates are greatly reduced, thereby saving energy and body mass, a remarkable evolutionary adaptation. These adaptations are perhaps most dramatic in hummingbirds of the high Andean mountains, where some birds lower their body temperature from over 100 degrees Fahrenheit to less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit every night and heart rates may drop from over 1,000 beats per minute to fewer than 100 beats per minute. The lower the body temperature and the longer they can sustain their torpor, the less body mass they lose overnight. Another adaptation for the high Andean birds, some of which are common at elevations above 14,000 feet, is the evolution of highly efficient hemoglobin, a protein in our red blood cells that carries oxygen to all of the tissues in our bodies. The birds have developed hemoglobin that has a very high affinity for oxygen, thus thriving in environments with considerably lower oxygen levels than at sea level. If you want to learn much more about bird behaviors, you will love John Kricher’s book, The Peterson Reference Guide to Bird Behavior , published last year and reviewed by Mark Lynch in the April 2021 issue of Bird Observer . As wonderful it is to see and hear birds, your enjoyment of birding will be greatly enhanced by learning about their behaviors from Kricher’s book or other sources. Good birding and good reading! Martha Steele , a former editor of Bird Observer , has been progressively losing vision due to retinitis pigmentosa and is legally blind. Thanks to a cochlear implant, she is now learning to identify birds from their songs and calls. Martha lives with her husband Bob Stymeist, in Arlington. Martha can be reached at email@example.com.