1. Rusty Blackbird
Rusty only in the fall;
usually suggests a short-tailed Grackle.
Male, spring: A robin-sized blackbird
with a pale yellow eye.
Note, a loud chack.
“Song,” a split creak like a rusty hinge.
River groves, wooded swamps, muskeg.
2. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
A beautiful bird; pale pearly gray,
with an extremely long scissor-like tail,
Sides and wing linings salmon-pink.
The young bird with a short tail
may suggest Western Kingbird.
Voice: A harsh keck or kew;
a repeated ka-leep;
also shrill kingbirdlike
bickerings and stutterings.
Habitat: Semi-open country,
A plump active sandpiper of the outer beaches,
where it chases the retreating waves
like a clockwork toy.
Summer plumage: Bright rusty
about the head, back, and breast.
Winter plumage: The palest sandpiper;
snowy white below, pale gray above
with black shoulders.
4. Black Skimmer
Black above and white below; more slender than a gull,
with extremely long wings.
The bright red bill (tipped with black) is long
and flat vertically; the lower mandible juts
a third beyond the upper.
This coastal species skims low,
dipping its knifelike mandible in the water.
Voice: Soft, short, barking noises.
Also kaup, kaup.
A voice in the night woods.
When flushed by day, the bird flits away
on rounded wings like a large brown moth.
Male shows large white tail patches;
in female these are buffish.
Voice: At night, a rolling,
tiresomely repeated whip’ poor-weel’,
or purple-rib, etc.;
accent on first and last syllables.
6. Black Rail
A tiny blackish rail with a small black bill;
about the size of a bobtailed young sparrow.
Nape deep chestnut.
Very difficult to glimpse, but may be flushed
by dragging a rope over the marsh.
Found poetry from Roger Tory Peterson, A Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern and Central North America, 4th edition. Some text and italics have been omitted, but nothing has been added.
Field guides are reference books, written to be skimmed. Since the books must be portable, the prose is economical in the extreme. But forced concision can lead to inadvertent poetry, as I think these examples show. (This is another post that began on the Found Poetry forum at Read Write Poem.)