Bird Roll Call: March 19, 2018

  • American goldfinch
  • American robin
  • Blue jay
  • Common grackle
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • Downy woodpecker
  • European starling
  • House finch
  • House sparrow
  • Mourning dove
  • Northern cardinal
  • Pine siskin
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • White-throated sparrow

It was a raining this morning, and I had things to do that didn’t involve observing birds. Still, I saw a few. It was fun watching them come out to eat and play when the rain stopped. The red-winged blackbird was absent, as was the case yesterday. I assume he’s moved on. I put grass seed down yesterday afternoon, and the birds (mainly the juncos with a little help from the white-throated sparrows) ate it all today. So it is when your yard is full of birds. The bunny who has been munching on the grass at night made a daytime appearance at the back of the yard, where old iris leaves were on the menu.

Location — in my backyard.

Bird Roll Call: March 12, 2018

  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1
  • Barred owl (two heard singing duet)1
  • Black-capped chickadee (heard)1
  • Blue jay1
  • Common grackle1
  • Cooper’s hawk (adult and juvenile)2
  • Dark-eyed junco1
  • Downy woodpecker1
  • European starling1
  • Gull sp. (overhead)1
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Mourning dove1
  • Northern cardinal1
  • Northern flicker (heard)1
  • Northern mockingbird2
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1
  • Red-winged blackbird (about three hundred)2
  • Red-tailed hawk2
  • White-throated sparrow1

I saw the adult Cooper’s hawk in the morning shortly after I woke up. A juvenile Cooper’s hawk flew through the yard and landed on the neighbor’s utility line in the evening.

My partner and I went out at dusk and saw several hundred (at least three hundred by my estimation) red-winged blackbirds in the Prairiefire Wetlands. They were briefly pursued by two red-tailed hawks who had a tussle with one another over hunting rights before they decided to turn in for the night. A single northern mockingbird kept the blackbirds company.

Just after 10 p.m., I heard two barred owls cawing and hooting at one another in a courtship duet similar to the audio file titled “Duet (Northern)” at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s website. I believe the two live in a nest in my neighbor’s tree one house back and one house over.

Locations — in my backyard and at the Prairiefire Wetlands.


1. Seen at home
2. Seen near the Prairiefire Wetlands

Twitter: Because I Have Suffered

First response to suffering: Because I have suffered, I don’t care about the suffering of others. Second response to suffering: Because I have suffered, I don’t want to see others suffer.

Spring: Plastic bags snagged in the stubble field are turned into the soil.

Good house: / sparrows out back / feasting in the millet. — Issa

Two mylar Valentine’s Day balloons are stuck high in my neighbor’s silver maple. They aren’t just an eyesore; they pose a threat to area birds. This isn’t how you tell someone you love them.

Dried hydrangea blossoms stumble along the culdesac, the wind’s playthings.

Snow. Wind. A pair of red-winged blackbirds clings to the crabapple.

You can tell a lot about a person from their detritus.

I come to know you through the things the wind blows from your yard to mine.

You once held the mylar balloons that quiver in the silver maple.

Your inflatable packing is strewn across my yard like entrails.

I walk around picking up your branches, your receipts, your skiffs of tinfoil.

Take my birds as a sign of goodwill. Let them sing you back to joy.

I’ll retrieve your balloons with a cherry picker — deflated hearts that announce your love.

Your plastic will become my plastic. Your glass, my glass. I want your caps, your lids, your Juicy Juice boxes and their delicate little straws. Let it all blow my way.

What’s this? Your pill sorter. The chambers are chalky and taste like salt.

Have my watering can and two-tiered birdbath, my chipmunk and his major and minor hoards.

You crossed the boundary long ago, so take what you want. This leaf. This seed. This wagon. This hoe.

Twitter: Bed of Moss

A red-winged blackbird has come to visit. What a surprise.

Over the din of construction equipment and yard tools, the male red-winged blackbird calls for a mate.

The red-winged blackbird seems to be serenading a pair of courting mourning doves.

A feather floats to the ground. Whose?

Even after I forget who I am, I think I will remember birds.

Today, my Turin horse was a pair of bluebirds trying to nest in a construction zone.

The next time you see a bird, know that part of me is with you.

I kept one thousand words in a cage, then I set them free.

On new asphalt, the muddy tracks of Canada geese look like hieroglyphs.

Unable to accept what is, I tried to will a dead goldfinch back to life today.

If I hold your neck, will it unbreak? If I open your eyes, will you see? If I run my fingers along your feathers, will you fly? Summer is coming, your brightest season. Now you lay in my hand, your toes curling as if around a branch. I breathe and you don’t.

Today, my Turin horse was a small bird who died because he tried to fly into the reflection of a tree.

I laid the goldfinch to rest on a bed of moss and covered him with dried hydrangea blossoms.

In this world / we walk on the roof of hell, / gazing at flowers. — Issa

Bird Roll Call: February 28, 2018

  • American goldfinch1
  • American robin1,2
  • Blue jay1
  • Brown creeper1
  • Canada goose2
  • Common grackle1,2
  • Dark-eyed junco1,2
  • Downy woodpecker1
  • Eastern bluebird2
  • European starling1,2
  • House finch1
  • House sparrow1
  • Killdeer2
  • Mallard2
  • Mourning dove1,2
  • Northern cardinal1
  • Northern flicker1
  • Pine siskin1
  • Red-bellied woodpecker1
  • Red-winged blackbird**1
  • White-throated sparrow1
  • Yellow-bellied sapsucker***1

Locations — in my backyard and at Meadowbrook Park. A double asterisk indicates first sighting in my yard. A triple asterisk indicates first sighting of the season.


1. Seen at home
2. Seen at Meadowbrook Park

Twitter: Secretive Nature

I want to upcycle Congress into an old-growth forest.

My bird name would be the beaver-toothed ruminator.

I’m pretty sure the geese don’t call this place Kansas.

Starlings perch on power lines above the trainyard.

I just read about a type of sparrow that has a “secretive nature.” Intriguing.

One squirrel munches on an acorn while the others kuk and quaa over a Cooper’s hawk.

The great horned owl is out hunting on our street today. Between him and the Cooper’s hawk, the crows and blue jays are raising a racket.

Today, I saw the sparrow described as having a “secretive nature.” What a beauty.

The noisy rooks pass over, and you may / Pace undiverted through the netted light / As silent as a thrush with work to do — John Hewitt

I’m just here for the beauty.

No killdeer across the street. For now, the new development has won.

The recycling truck’s brakes sing like a forlorn bird.

One of the functions of language is to facilitate the creation of memories. Once we have memory, we have a past and a presumed future.

Language is not how we experience the world. It’s how we editorialize about our experiences.

As soon as I say “hawk,” I am no longer experiencing the hawk.

There’s a lot of goose poo on my shoe. I don’t know what to do.

Yesterday, I followed a kestrel through a small field.

Talk about theories all you like, but when it rains, go outside.

In place of leaves, red-winged blackbirds.

The pied-billed grebe’s white stomach shimmers like an ostrich egg.