After a month of Sundays crawling
through brush, bramble, and meadow,
climbing trees, wading marshlands,
strolling lonely beaches and river banks
with his custom Audubon endorsed binoculars,
he can relate some funny things
about our avian kinfolk.
The Oldsquaw is
a furtive Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
that displays a red throat and
tries to suck the life out of trees.
Forget it if you have a yen to go looking
for a Labrador Duck;
the last one seen was in 1878.
is a constitutional right of the NRA.
A Himalayan Goose was spotted
at twenty-nine thousand feet
but neither the spotter nor goose
was heard from again.
The FAA said it was a renegade weather balloon
ultimately shot down
by a Russian peasant who mistook it
for a Tibetan weather demon that rains fire.
Birds are the only surviving dinosaurs.
A fossil of the first bird was found
in Bavaria by a slate-splitter who
gave it to the district medical officer,
who sold it for a small fortune to the British Museum.
Science named this avian reptile Archeopteryx
and proved to all but the fundamentalists
that it lived 125 million years ago.
Still earlier creatures known as Thecodonts
thought they could fly from rock to rock
until they realized they were longtailed lizards
whose scales only looked like feathers.
Chicken Hawks rarely eat chickens
they eat mice.
We eat chickens.
The most boring bird you will ever see
is the Red-Eyed Vireo which sings
the same note twenty-two thousand times a day,
whereas some Sparrows are known to improvise
as many as twenty variations on a given note.
If there were no birds
Tchaikovsky would not have known
what to name his lake,
Keats would have written one less ode,
the Wright brothers would have stuck to bicycles.
two in the bush would be as good as an empty hand,
there would be no Cardinals in the Vatican,
and the world would be ruled by bugs.
It is against the law to molest birds
or steal their eggs except
for House Sparrows and Starlings
and a few other species that remain unprotected
because they play havoc with crops
and have multiplied to the point that they threaten
to take over the planet,
and they probably have the same fear about us.
When in your backyard spotting birds
through binoculars it is prudent
to shout from time to time,
I'M ONLY WATCHING BIRDS.
Birdwatchers doing time as Peeping Toms
are often referred to as Jailbirds.