I and the Bird 49: the Wordchaser


Welcome to the 49th edition of I and the Bird, the carnival for bloggers who love birds. I’m calling this edition — with a nod to my fellow Pennsylvanian Rob Fergus — the Wordchaser. I’m less of a birder than a bird appreciator (for street cred, I can only point to my vice-presidency in the local Audubon chapter), but I chase down poems the way a life-lister chases birds.

Past editions of I and the Bird have showcased the host’s own creativity, with sometimes extraordinary results. But this time I want to turn it around and focus on the linguistic creativity of the contributors themselves. Poems, like birds, are everywhere; it’s just a matter of training ourselves to recognize them — a metaphor here, an alliterative passage there, and something lovely dark and deep lurking just beyond. And with a little bit of editing, the English language naturally resolves into a rough iambic pentameter…

gnatcatcher on scarlet oak

Each line in the “found poem” below is a link to the post I lifted it from. I’ve altered nothing but the punctuation, and I’ve included an audio version for those who may have trouble hearing the poetry at first. I’m hoping the excerpts will read like riddles, enticing you to click through and discover their original contexts.

Lots of good things happen unbidden. Sure they do:

A Golden-winged singing in the far field;

A chance encounter with a small flock of Cockatoos,

Little cotton balls above their legs;

Fallouts of migrants at coastal “fire-escapes;”

Antshrikes, antwrens and antbirds churring and flitting.

A Bobolink flew up out of the field and circled me,

The super nova of the forest, the gaudy Prothonotary.

I knew instantly what it was! There was no mistaking

An immature Bald Eagle in January with a broken wing.

They make the most amazing murbling noises

(Audubon would have said something like that).

The afternoon lull had set in, but we pressed on.

We spotted the lapwings again, out in the glasswort–

How high above the water the white flashes!

Who knows how they knew they were there,

Bird with bird, birds with the very air.

Red Knot, that salmon sensation, doesn’t persist;

I can’t pry them from their hidden nest.

Tomorrow perhaps. Perhaps the day after,

I will spot snipe both close and in good light,

Hundreds of ruddy turnstones, a least sandpiper,

Dendroica cerulea by sound as well as sight.

In their minds, they’re following the food,

Catching arthropods as they attempt to flee

In dewy grass, or ground on the sole of my boot.

I wanted to see the Gray-crowned Yellowthroat;

How it arrived on the window sill I know not.

It was dusk by that time and no hope of a decent photo.

The bird stretches its wings and simply lets go.

hunger bird

Sources: Julie Zickefoose, Thomasburg Walks, Trevor’s Birding, Living the Scientific Life, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, Drawing the Motmot, The Birdchaser, Bell Tower Birding, Richard Guthrie, Bird Treatment and Learning Center, The Egret’s Nest, Birds Etcetera, The Hawk Owl’s Nest, Ben Cruachan Blog, The Nemesis Bird, The Flatbush Gardener, Fragments from Floyd, 10,000 Birds, Marcia Bonta, The House and other Arctic musings, lovely dark and deep, A DC Birding Blog, Cup O’ Books, Gavan Central, Tick Magnet, Antshrike’s Bird Blog, Bird Ecology Study Group, Wrenaissance Reflections, Dzonoqua’s Whistle.

The next edition of I and the Bird will appear in two weeks at A Blog Around the Clock. Send submissions to Bora: Coturnix AT gmail DOT com.


  1. Sweet…I love found poetry and this is a great example of it! This must have taken forever to put together. Bravo!


  2. Damn. I keep forgetting to submit. I’d have loved to have been in such a lovely poetic carnival. What a great job.


  3. A beautiful found poem- the last line pulled everything together and gave me goosebumps. What a wonderful, creative approach to the carnival. Bravo!


  4. You take too little credit. This is indeed a fascinating bit of poetry. It seems an impossible task, but you brought it together beautifully!


  5. Wow. As a birder and a poet, I can only say, “Wow!” That is wonderful and I am totally intrigued and will click through on all the links. Thank you for doing us proud!


  6. What a fun idea! Awesome way to tie it all together!! (thanks for doing it!)


  7. Fantastically creative, dave! Yay. I love it, and only wish I wasn’t such a lazy bum and had thought to contribute something to this edition.


  8. the birds and I… how many are there now? chirping gets more boisterous daily inside the walls of my kitchen. There’s a hole in the clapboard where the porch wires once ran to the porch. Tomorrow I’ll see who’s living in there. I enjoyed this found poem.


  9. Truly outstanding – thanks for such a great carnival. I was intrigued to click back to the originating posts to find the context for the lines of the poem.



  10. Listening to you read this was creepy. I could see your face on the monitor in front of me. And I don’t think the Saison Deluxe had anything to do with it.


  11. A big thanks to everyone who read/listened, commented, or linked. I had a lot of fun putting this together, and encourage anyone with a blog to consider volunteering to host I&tB or another blog carnival yourself. (The Festival of the Trees is still looking for hosts from August on!)


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