After the Smoke Clears

You have to look harder in winter, but your eyes will be rewarded when you do. Here’s a twig of a Smokebush (Cotinus): it’s purpler in real life, especially with the low winter sun hitting it full on. This smokey bush is fairly impenetrable to the eyes in the growing season, making it great cover. There are often song birds underneath and within it in spring-summer-fall. But with the leaves all gone now, there are other discoveries to be made in its thicket. This is the elegant case of a bagworm moth caterpillar, all pasted with little twigs (iNaturalist’s ID feature suggested Tuliptree as its third choice!). There were several others, some smaller and unfestooned, so perhaps more than one species of the Psychidae family favors this plant.And deeper within the sprawling bush was this very twiggy nest, cluttered with cemetery-garbage — curiously, many like memorialize their departed with plastic, perhaps as a throwback to an ancient hankering for immortality….

In a thicket, low-to-the-ground, perhaps a Gray Catbird?

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