Birds and birds and birds – Poetry Friday

Thanks to modern technology, we now spend our long commutes back and forth to gymnastics listening to audiobooks. This month we’re listening to The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession. It’s a (surprisingly) funny book both about the history of birding in North America and 3 men who spend a year trying to break the North American record for seeing the most birds in one year. (My 7 and 11 year old keep asking me “Are you sure this is a true story?”)

I’m not nearly as obsessed with birds as the three men in the book, but before we had kids my husband and I used to enjoy birding. We even spend our anniversary one year at an Audubon birding retreat. So between listening to a book about a passion for birds, sketching birds, and working on a monthly journal quilt that features a bird I have been thinking about birds. A lot.

While listening to a lengthy description of the history of birding guides, I remembered of one of my favorite books from when I was a kid, How to Tell the Birds from the Flower. To my delight, I found the book online and the kids and I sat and read it. It is every bit as charming and tongue-in-cheek funny as I remembered from my childhood. The book gives distinguishing characteristics to help you tell apart look-alike birds and flowers. So if you need to tell apart a hen and lichen, you should note:

     The Lichens lie on rocks and bark,
     They look somewhat like Hens:
     Hens lay, they lie, we may remark,
     A difference of tense.

Having spent the last two weeks experimenting with linocuts, I had a new appreciation for the witty woodcuts in the book:

To read more poetry, visit the Poetry Friday Roundup hosted this week by Gathering Books.

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10 Responses to Birds and birds and birds – Poetry Friday

  1. Pingback: Poetry Friday Round Up – Come One! Come All! «

  2. Linda Baie says:

    Around the new year, my neighbor spotted a bird that shouldn’t be here in Colorado, took a photo & sent it to confirm her citing. We live by a park. For several weeks we had avid bird watchers outside our homes looking, looking, hoping for a spotting. Some got to see it, some were disappointed, but all were so dedicated. I’ve read about your book about that year-sounds like a good one to listen to. And this book that compares the birds & flowers. Wow, so clever in the words & the art: “Crow Caw-cus”.

  3. jama says:

    Oh, love the crow and crocus! Such a clever book :).

    I enjoy watching and identifying birds, too (I’m mostly just a backyard birder). My favorites are the bluebirds and chickadees. And there’s always a cheeky Carolina Wren who likes to watch me from the windowsill .

  4. I will definitely look for that book. It sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. This spring will be the first after I closed down my so-called “squirrel-proof” bird feeder last year. It seems that a bird-feeder in a very small yard can upset the eco-system. Yes, I did see many different kinds of birds come to visit but the feeder had become a 24-hour diner for the local squirrels and they had taken over the garden.

    Now I just freshen the water in the bird bath and rejoice when I see a few new birds, like the cardinals (Mr. & Mrs.) this morning looking over the real estate.

    I now seek out bird poems and bird stories and bird art as substitutes.

    So, thank you, Katya, for the introduction to what promises to be a great new book about birds.


    • kczaja says:

      Unfortunately this is the first house where we can’t have a bird feeder either. Only in our case we have a problem with black bears more than squirrels — I’m not eager to have the neighborhood black bear visiting my house for a snack on his rounds around the block.

  6. Hi, Katya–

    Oh, how clever indeed, both poetry and woodcuts. Is this book American, or (as I suspect) British? (Oh me of little faith!) I’m curious also about the book you’re listening to with your kids. To me (appreciative of but not drawn by birds), it doesn’t sound like typical middle-grade fare, but then I bet your kids are not typical middle-graders. : )