Welcome to the 113th Edition of I and the Bird! I hope you enjoy your visit.
For this edition of I and the Bird, I decided to see what quotations from verse and literature would be invoked by the various submissions that I received.
In the spirit of several earlier IATB efforts that made use of found poetry (Dave Bonta and Liza Lee Miller come to mind) and quotations (Clare Kines did a nice job with this too), here’s what I put together this time around. Mind you, it’s not easy to find literature relating to some of these species, so its quite a mixed bag, with sources as diverse as our contributors!
Coincidentally, while working on this post, I received a copy of a new anthology of bird poems, Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds, edited by Billy Collins, and illustrated by David Sibley. I’ll be posting a review of this volume here soon – stop by next week to check it out.
is the long-necked, long-bodied heron,
always it is a surprise
when her smoke-colored wings
and she turns
from the thick water,
from the black sticks
of the summer pond,
rises into the air
and is gone.
from “Heron Rises from the Dark, Summer Pond”
In huckle-berry fields I see the seeds of berries recently left on the rocks where birds have perched. How many of these small fruits they may thus disseminate!
Journal. Aug 2, 1860
He wheels about burning
in the red sun
climbs and glides
and doubles back upon himself
now over ocean
now over land
high over pinwheels stuck in sand
where a rollercoaster used to stand
soaring eagle setting sun
All that is left of our wilderness
from “Seascape with Sun and Eagle”
high noon –
the reed-warbler sings
to the silent river
His bill an auger is,
His head, a cap and frill.
He laboreth at every tree, —
A worm his utmost goal.
from “The Woodpecker”
I’m woken by the rifle bird’s song –
some notes I know well.
from “The Rifle Bird’s Song”
But a trogon’s natural instinct is to sit on a branch, deep inside
the green-leafed tree with the berries & hold pefectly still & upright –
its long slaty tail wavering ever so slightly in the breeze. Or
to rise & flap against a backdrop of white sky, where just as you try
to grasp the brilliant & quick presence of it, it disappears.
from “A Portrait of Larry with Trogons”
They love to party. Sometimes they get so drunk
on overripe berries they keel over
and then have to sleep it off.
The branches they flocked on bobbed and sagged, and the air
was full of their gleeful gibberish.
Not one of them weighed more than an ounce.
from “Cedar Waxwings”
…through our woodbines, wet with glittering dews,
The flower-fed Humming-bird his round pursues;
Sips, with inserted tube, the honied blooms,
And chirps his gratitude as round he roams.
While richest roses, though in crimson dress’d,
Shrink from the splendour of his gorgeous breast;
What heavenly tints in mingling radiance fly;
Each rapid movement gives a different dye;
Like scales of burnish’d gold, they dazzling show,
Now sink to shade – now like a furnace glow!
from “Dawn (The Humming-Bird)”
The elder took the lid off a little round basket.
After he had opened up five nested one inside the another,
he presented him with feathers for his wings.
Then he gave him tailfeathers too.
Then he shaped him with his hands.
He colored the upper part of him red.
Then he said to him,
“Now, my little grandson, you should go.
This is why you have been with me.”
Then we went back out,
and then he flew,
and then he did the same thing as before.
He clutched the tree,
and then he struck it with his beak.
from a Haida myth about the Sapsucker
from STLUUJAGADANG [The Qquuna Cycle, § 2.3]
Skaay of the Qquna Qiighawaay
In Robert Bringhurst. A story as sharp as a knife: the classical Haida mythtellers and their world. U. of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 1999.
The whole world is a green clock
ticking away. We stop at a line of
poplars. A kingbird skims a branch,
waving the white handkerchief of his spread
from “The Slowness of Trees
(for my mother)”
Of a changeful hue, now green, now blue,
Like the breast of the ocean are thy plumes,
And lands remote have heard thy note
Break the stillness deep of their forest glooms;
And year by year though comest here
In the gentle spring and the autumn-tide…
from “The Song of the Maltese to the Roller”
In Charles Henry Poole. A Treasury of Bird Poems. Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, & Kent, London, 1911.
In this month of rains,
On a drying road where the poplars march along,
With a rush of wings flew down a company,
A multitude, throng upon throng,
Successive orchestras of wind-blown song,
Whirled, like a babble of surf,
On to the roadside turf –
Ford Madox Ford
from “The Starling”
Save one little Tody, in brilliant green,
With delicate hues of a glossy soft sheen,
Who answered the Toucan in accents demure :
“Your beak is a wonder! but don’t be too sure,
It cannot be equalled or even excelled
By birds, my good sir, whom you never beheld!”
from “The Toucan, Hornbill and Green Tody”
In Charles Henry Poole A Treasury of Bird Poems. Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, & Kent, London, 1911.
Behold, within the leafy shade,
Those bright blue eggs together laid!
On me the chance-discovered sight
Gleamed like a vision of delight.
I started—seeming to espy
The home and sheltered bed,
The Sparrow’s dwelling, which, hard by
My Father’ house, in wet or dry
My sister Emmeline and I
from “The Sparrow’s Nest”
Amila at Gallicissa shares some lovely photos of peacock, storks, prinias, babblers and other birds. Oh – and mammals too!
Each turquoise and purple, black-horned, walleyed quill
Comes quivering forward, an amphitheatric shell
For his most fortunate audience: her alone.
from “Peacock Display”
This wee bird has no distinction—past
a tiny probing bill small as a thistle seed—
other than intent companionable merriness
as he makes his flitting circuit trailing
clan from apple tree to suet, fir and oak.
when I look up from
my mind I see what
you are: feather-hooded,
to the steady perch;
an idea of the lower
with color, a tuber
of claws and wings
and an eye unmarred.
from “Common Flicker”
Listen! listen! hear them call,
While the snows around them fall;
Searching now for seeds so small,
Swinging on the brown weeds tall.
Bless these birds in slate and gray;
We will watch them ev’ry day,
For no fear of snow have they.
Do you know what Juncos say?
There are eight species of this common Snowbird within the limits of the United States but nearly all are found on mountains white with snow. Our Juncos come in September and remain until April and the cheery, hardy visitor is very welcome. During the coldest days they will come to the house or barn for food, for hunger makes them very brave, but they usually remain in vacant lots and gather their harvest from the weeds.
from ABC of Birds
Mary Catherine Judd
A.W. Mumford, Chicago, 1916.
Hardy, active, social, a winter bird no less than a summer, a defier of both frost and heat, lover of the pine-tree, and diligent searcher after truth in the shape of eggs and larvae of insects, preeminently a New England bird, clad in black and ashen gray, with a note the most cheering and reassuring to be heard in our January woods…
from “Birds and Poets”
Come out and hear the owls shout
In the still and dewy night-hour;
The moon a fading white flower
Hangs low, with mists about.
Like pale moths, along the hedge
Withering bindweed lies;
Night looks in with hollow eyes,
Dim at the window-ledge.
In Charles Henry Poole A Treasury of Bird Poems. Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, & Kent, London, 1911.
O quick quick quick, quick hear the song-sparrow,
Swamp-sparrow, fox-sparrow, vesper-sparrow
At dawn and dusk. Follow the dance
Of goldfinch at noon.
from “Cape Ann”
In their habits I cannot point out a single difference; — They are lively inquisitive, active run fast, frequent houses to pick the meat of the Tortoise, which is hung up, — sing tolerably well; are said to build a simple open nest. — are very tame, a character in common with the other birds: I imagined however its note or cry was rather different from the Thenca of Chile? — Are very abundant, over the whole Island; are chiefly tempted up into the high & damp parts, by the houses & cleared ground.
I have specimens from four of the larger Islands; the two above enumerated, and (3349: female. Albermarle Isd.) & (3350: male: James Isd). — The specimens from Chatham & Albermarle Isd appear to be the same; but the other two are different. In each Isld. each kind is exclusively found: habits of all are indistinguishable.
from Darwin’s Ornithological Notes.
Nora Barlow, ed. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History). Historical Series Vol. 2 No. 7. LONDON: 1963
The first annual report of the Brush Hill Bird Club gives a list of thirty-seven bird clubs, located chiefly in New England. The annual report of the National Association of Audubon Societies gives a list of twenty bird clubs affiliated with the National Association. Mr. Ernest Harold Baynes, who has been the prime factor in this movement, has organized about sixty bird clubs; so that there are probably about one hundred bird clubs to be found in the United States.
The organization of a bird club enables those interested in birds to work more effectively than would be possible individually, and many people who are not acquainted with birds are interested in the opportunity for doing public service through the conservation of valuable birds. Interest may be aroused by having some one deliver a lecture on birds. A club may be organized at the close of such a lecture. Details regarding the methods to be used are given in Mr. Ernest Harold Baynes’s “Wild Bird Guests.”
One interesting result of these bird clubs has been the effect upon the communities in which they have been organized. Frequently a feeling of indifference to bird life has been changed to one of enthusiasm for bird-protection. In some cases the club has served as a center of general interest for the whole town and has been a means of arousing a community spirit.
from Gilbert H. Trafton.
Bird Friends: a complete bird book for Americans.
Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1916
The next I and the Bird (#114) will be hosted on 12/3/09 at The Life of a Bird Tour Leader. Please contribute your submissions and pay a visit.
A note on copyright. Some of the works quoted here are in the public domain, while others may be protected under copyright. I share the limited poetry quotations in this edition of I and the Bird in the spirit of bringing together the art, words, and photos of talented individuals from different times and places in the common enjoyment and appreciation of birds. I have been careful to attribute each quote to its author, and I realize no financial or commercial gain from the appearance of this material on my web site. It is my view that this constitutes fair use of the quoted material from each poem. However, if you believe that any quote in this post violates the terms of a copyright that you hold or represent, please notify me and I will remove it.