The woman next door feeds birds
so she can watch them from her living room.
The several oaks before her house are graced
with tiny houses hanging, copper, wood
and plastic cylinders all filled with seeds,
sugar syrup, peanut butter and milled corn.

I think her weedless lawn is a poor host
to worms or bugs enough for bluebirds, robins–
mere ground-feeders who eat meat.
She’s vegetarian, so that’s all right with her.
From behind her curtain she would much prefer
to spy on the elusive types, those specimens

her bird-watcher associates compete to see.
The hummingbird is difficult to lure her way,
she has complained to me.  I listen, but in matters avian
my ignorance is great. I tend to sound more than to sight,
and often stop what I am doing to delight in song
of bobolink or chickadee; I wake

with the dawn chorus, mourn with mourning doves
I’ve never seen.  So when my neighbor called
this morning urging me to look outside because
at last her hummingbird had come–
I looked, I saw, but I was unimpressed.
Silly me, I thought I’d hear it hum.

6 responses »

  1. That’s amusing, and makes a good point well. As a Brit, when I have visited North America, I’ve been enchanted by the different birdsong – and especially by your chickadee (so exotic!).

  2. The chickadee is the ubiquitous “official state bird” of Massachusetts, and when I lived in Boston for many years I didn’t think of it as exotic–but it’s lovely to hear that someone did think it so!

  3. Yesterday morning- As my cat Bridie Mae and I were sitting peacefully on the balcony, lo and behold, both a chickadee and a hummingbird greeted us for a second until Bridie Mae went into action and tried to nab the little hummingbird. I had just bought and planted beautiful plants on my balcony. I think both birds were attracted to their smell. It was a delightful poem that I so enjoyed, even though I am not a bird lover. I think it has to do with some Irish superstition about birds and bad luck.

    • Do your plants have red flowers? I’m told hummingbirds are attracted to red, though I’m not sure they would attack you like el toro if you happen to wear a red sweater….then, for sure, you would not be a bird lover!

  4. ….what always intrigues is your point of view, blunted by the velvet of your verse, yet sent home to its mark in the end. (Some) so-called ‘birders’ seem to somehow always turn it into being about them–what they’ve spotted no one else has, what they’ve attracted to come to visit them. Birds, like the rest of us tend to go where the food is. Who lays it out is the servant rather than the master–especially for chickadees, whose merry taunt almost seems to mock ground-confined folk while stealing the prized seed away from birdy competitors. Their cadenced-ditty is larger than they are as you so aptly point out. I love this.

    • It may be a bit sacrilegious to satirize the bird watchers, but I had fun with this one. Your own paintings of birds are exquisite, and I expect that your study of and looking at them is wide and deep. My partner used to concern herself with watching and feeding birds and I learned that it was indeed some kind of competition. She would be exasperated when I kiddingly referred to all of them as “LBB’s”—-which stood for “Little Brown Birds”….such an ignoramus am I about the names, except for the few that I readily recognize….like robins, crows, chickadees, cardinals, jays, hummingbirds…..(It’s the same way with botanical names of flowers….does a rose smell sweeter when you know it’s Latin label?) At any rate I do know a lot of the bird calls and bird songs…One of the most interesting and haunting repertoires around here is that of the Loon. Now, before you think me totally loony, I will just say it’s a treat to find your comment here, today, dear Lance. I’m glad you liked this

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