Pausing next to a tamarack tree, Rick Marsi ’69 purses his lips and exhales, “pshhht, pshhht, pshhht, pshhht” in staccato breaths. A male common yellowthroat, wearing a black mask, answers the call and alights on a nearby branch. Marsi — economics major, ornithologist, naturalist, writer, and photographer — is seemingly satisfied.
Crunching through fallen leaves at Brier Hill, his 30-acre property in Vestal, N.Y., on this balmy, mellow Monday, Marsi points out landmarks: a towering white oak that he refers to as “the matriarch,” a grove of red pines that grew from seedlings he and his mother planted in the mid-’60s, and mini-waterfalls created by stones that he and his wife piled in the creek. All the while, his feathered friends warble overhead, and the birdman is always listening.