nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Archive for the ‘bird song’ Category

blue jay on a fall day

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Our cabin is a great place for relaxing. Sometimes we have work to do, but sometimes we just sit back, read, watch birds or talk.

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Often the birds come to us. I have had a hummingbird hover in the open door, just to check out what is inside that peculiar box on the hillside. We often see waxwings in our big pine trees or catch a glimpse of a goldfinch sashaying by.

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This past week, a blue jay came to call. It perched on our grape arbour for a while and then examined our ATV trailer thoroughly. I don’t think he had a clue he was being watched and photographed.

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dark choke-cherries, scarlet keys of ash

hang, counterweight to summer

blue jays strip the branches, berry by berry

v-beaks and hollow throats

                         (from my up-coming book “in the shelter of the covered bridge”)

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

robin in the rafters and in rain

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If you are a bird, this is the time of year for nest building! An American robin has built a nest in the support beams of our deck. Years ago we had fun watching a robin build a nest and raise a brood in the rafters of our cabin.

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This year’s nest builder thinks the deck is his alone. Going in and out by way of the deck gets us a scolding. The robin puffs out its chest and tries to lure the marauders away. I am afraid to go near to get a photo since I might disturb eggs or chicks, so a photo of a robin’s nest in winter will have to do!

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Sudden Storm

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dusk

half darkness

the moon rises

a sliver from full

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spaces yawn

liquid robin song

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aspen, motionless

poplar tremble

a nuthatch rustles in the leaves

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wind chime plays a scale

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cloud stretched across the moon

a hand pressed to the treetops

leaves turn to the silver underside

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warm splashes

polka-dot the patio

puny dust storms on the step

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streamers stripe the glass

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curtains of rain

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017  

Written by jane tims

June 5, 2017 at 7:00 am

song of the Hermit thrush

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Every morning I listen at my window for the morning bird chorus. This morning, my first Hermit thrush of the year! It is my favorite of the bird songs, melodic and heavenly, phrases repeated in different keys.  A year ago, I heard the song and wrote the following poem. For the process I followed in writing this poem, see this.

Hermit thrush

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Catharus guttatus

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neither visceral nor guttural, ethereal

tip-toe in tree tops

air pulled into taffy thread

a flute in the forest

froth on a wave

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rain trembles on leaf tips

guttation drops on strawberry

a lifted curtain of mayflower

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I saw you there

hidden in the thicket 

and I followed

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climb the ladder and sing

then step to the rung below

heads up, thoughts of the new day

parting of the beak

pulse at the throat

hairs lift

at the nape

of the neck, fingers

warble the keys

between middle and ring

catharsis

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Published at http://www.janetims.com July 1, 2016

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Copyright Jane Tims 2016

Written by jane tims

May 31, 2017 at 7:10 am

morning birdcalls – Northern Parula

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After a hot day, a cool night. This morning, our windows are wide open and a Northern Parula is busy in our grey woods.

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His distinctive call – ‘whirrrr-zip’ – has an upward lilt at the end. I can catch only a glimpse of him, certainly not long enough for a photograph.

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The Northern Parula is a small warbler with a bright orangy-yellow upper breast. He builds his nests of Old Man’s Beard lichen (Usnea spp.) – there is lots of this lichen hanging from the trees in our grey woods, so of course he is here!  This is a watercolour I did of him last year.

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

May 20, 2017 at 9:25 am

morning bird chorus – ephemera

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When I was a child, one of the things I prized was my collection of ‘bird cards’. These were an advertising give-away from ‘Cow Brand Baking Soda’ (Church and Dwight Limited, Montreal, Canada).

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I would spend hours looking at these, putting them in order of the ones I liked best, thinking about the birds depicted. The Meadowlark was a local bird I had seen many times and his call was as familiar to me as breathing – he always made it to the top of the pile! Today the winner would be the Cedar Waxwing who sits in the tops of the pines at our cabin, or the Goldfinch who spends all winter at our feeders!

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Today I still have two packs of these cards. They are in sets of 16 in a paper envelope. The card sets are called ‘Useful Birds of America’ and the front of each card shows an image of a bird by artist Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874-1927), an American ornithologist and artist. On the back, there is a tip on how to use ‘Cow Brand Baking Soda’, the bird’s common name, its scientific name and a charming paragraph about its appearance and habits. The card concludes with a short message still relevant today:

For the good of all, do not destroy the birds 

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

August 3, 2016 at 8:22 am

Hermit thrush

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Another surprise in the morning bird chorus — a Hermit thrush. I have been listening for it all spring and at last, this morning, the ethereal notes.

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June 24 2016 'thrush ethereal' Jane Tims

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How to describe the song of the Hermit thrush? T.S. Eliot described it in The Waste Land, in V: What the Thunder Said :

 … sound of water over a rock

Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees

Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop …

and

… who is the third who walks always beside you …

and

… In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing

Over the tumbled graves …

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A technical description of the Hermit thrush song is ‘a beginning note, then several descending musical phrases in a minor key, repeated at different pitches.’

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The song is clear, flute-like. To me the essential characteristics are the change in pitch at the beginning of the new phrase and the hint of water within. If you watch the Hermit thrush while she is singing, she stands tall, tilts her head back, looks into the distance with her bright black eye, lifts her feathers ever so slightly and opens her beak. Her throat swells a little but otherwise you are left to wonder, where do those notes begin?

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If her song was another sound, it would be a flute in the forest.

If it was a smell, it would be the sweet scent of mayflowers, as you part the leaves with the back of your hand.

If it was a touch, it would be lifted hairs at the back of your neck.

If it was a taste, it would be syrup drizzled over iced milk.

If it was an image, it would be guttation drops on strawberries.

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What other words describe the song of the Hermit thrush?

clear

precise

covert

alone

sweet

tremolo

pure

hidden

pensive

thoughtful

thicket

froth on a dancing wave

raindrops trembling on the tips of leaves

the step from rung to rung on a ladder

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If it was a vowel, it would be every vowel

If it was a consonant, it would be ‘c’, ‘l’, ‘r’, or ‘v’

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Hermit thrush

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Catharus guttatus

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neither visceral nor guttural, ethereal

tip-toe in tree tops

air pulled into taffy thread

a flute in the forest

froth on a wave

~

rain trembles on leaf tips

guttation drops on strawberry

a lifted curtain of mayflower

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I saw you there

hidden in the thicket 

and I followed

~

climb the ladder and sing

then step to the rung below

heads up, thoughts of the new day

parting of the beak

pulse at the throat

hairs lift

at the nape

of the neck, fingers

warble the keys

between middle and ring

catharsis

~

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Copyright  2016  Jane Tims

 

 

 

Mourning dove

with 10 comments

I woke this morning to another new bird in the mix of the morning bird chorus — a Mourning dove. In this area, the Mourning dove is a common bird, seen pecking at seeds beneath feeders or hanging out on the telephone lines. But I haven’t heard one in our grey woods for a while.

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'two Mourning Doves'

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The call of the Mourning dove gives it its name. It begins with a low question and continues in a descending series of coos.

Oh no, no, no, no, no

Dear me, me, me, me, me, me

I decided to try and capture this sound in words.

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Mourning

Melancholy

Monotonous

Sad

Solemn

Hollow, mellow

A reed, the inside walls of a bottle

An emerald bottle, buried to its neck in the sand

Breath across the mouth of a bottle

A child’s feeble attempt at a whistle

Light and shadow inside a vessel of glass

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If the call of a mourning dove were a colour it would be amethyst

If the call of a mourning dove were a sound it would be wind blowing down the stairway of a tower

If the call of a mourning dove were a taste it would be chowder, thick and left too long on the fire

If the call of a mourning dove were a touch it would be a wooden shawl, wrapped round and round until it was no longer warm but strangling

If the call of a mourning dove were a song it would be hesitant, riff-driven, repeated over and over

If the call of a mourning dove were a smell it would be the cloying perfume of lilac

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If it was a vowel, it would be ‘o’ or ‘u’ and sometimes ‘y’

If it was a consonant, it would be ‘m’, ‘n’, ‘r’, or ‘w’

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Heavy or light

Loud or soft

Tall or short

Sad or happy

Bright or dull

Sharp or dull

Nearby or distant

Solemn or joyous

Spacious or confined

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So, from all this, a poem. This is the second draft of a poem about the mourning dove which never mentions the bird except in the title.

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Mourning dove

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Zenaida macroura

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wind wakens, descends the stair

notices shadow, gaps in cladding

the hollow of the tower, breath

across the mouth of a bottle

amethyst, buried in sand

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the reed widened, a solemn song

the riff, the echo, a distant train

expands across the valley

and a child hollows her hand

shapes her lips for a kiss

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tries to whistle, her breath

a sigh, a puff to cool

the chowder, still simmers

on the fire, thick

and needing stirring

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potatoes, corn and onions

curdled cream, a woollen shawl wrapped

round and round, warmth tightened

to struggle, viscous as lilac

unable to breathe

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For other posts and poems about the Mourning dove, see https://janetims.com/2012/01/16/keeping-warm/  and  https://janetims.com/2015/01/30/for-the-birds/

 

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Copyright 2016 Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

June 29, 2016 at 7:01 am

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