Questions about birds

What made the stork ancestor of New World vultures forsake its obstretrics practice for the morgue?

 

Where does the wood thrush store its silver bells when it flies south for the winter?

 

Did the old trout learn how to lurk from studying ospreys?

 

Is it the excess of sky following a clearcut that gives cerulean warblers the blues?

 

If jewelweeds were never ensorceled by a hummingbird’s wand, would they still turn into touch-me-nots?

 

How many swallows does it take to make a summer?

 

Do winter wrens come back from the dead to haunt the enemies of clutter?

 

When a flock of grackles pivots around a hawk, are they trying to drive it mad?

 

Why do goldfinches go to all the trouble of building watertight nests if they never go boating?

 

What does a 25-pound wild turkey know about flying that a 3-pound chicken does not?

 

Would bitterns burp as loudly if they didn’t swallow frogs?

 

How do we know the loopy displays of male woodcocks aren’t aimed at the earthworms?

 

Does the cardinal attacking his reflection in the window learn to hate the color red?

 

Is the drumming grouse testing the air for ripeness, the way we thump melons?

 

What does the scarlet tanager see in our boring northern forests to justify an annual fight all the way from South America?

 

How many paper girls will it take to save the Japanese crane?

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Two of my favorite books by Pablo Neruda are The Art of Birds and The Book of Questions. I wanted to try and write something in the style of both. I’ve crossposted a hyperlinked version to The Clade.

16 Comments


    1. Great link! Thanks.

      The thing is, though, that some real birds are every bit as bizarre as anything we can dream up: think of the bowerbird, the lyrebird, the three-wattled bellbird, the turquoise-browed motmot — or, indeed, the American woodcock. Not to mention hummingbirds in general.

      Reply

  1. The goldfinch doesn’t boat because his yellow slicker keeps blowing away.

    Reply

  2. This made me realize afresh how little I really know about birds. Something I’ve been wanting to amend for some time. Gorgeous.

    Reply

    1. Thanks. If you follow the link to the version I posted at The Clade, you’ll see I’ve included some helpful links if you want to learn more about some of the birds I’ve mentioned here.

      Reply

  3. Profound questions! “What does a 25-pound wild turkey know about flying that a 3-pound chicken does not?” is going to keep me up at night, I’m fairly sure.

    Reply

    1. Let me know if you figure it out.

      Hey, will you be posting stuff to The Clade, too? That would be terrific.

      Reply

  4. Birds know there’s no window. Why don’t we believe them?

    Reply

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