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Part Two:

The Early Spring Birds

Spring Migration

FEBRUARY 15th to MARCH 10th

Song Sparrow
Purple Grackle
Red-winged Blackbird

MARCH 10th to 31st

Mourning Dove
Red-headed Woodpecker
Field Sparrow

APRIL 1st to 20th

Vesper Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow

APRIL 20th to 30th

Purple Martin
Chimney Swift
House Wren
Wood Thrush
Brown Thrasher

MAY 1st to 10th

Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Baltimore Oriole
Orchard Oriole
Scarlet Tanager
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Yellow Warbler
Maryland Yellow-throat Red-eyed Vireo
Wood Pewee

The Mockingbird is a resident of
our southern and western states.


Now that the winter's gone, the earth hath lost
Her snow-white robes; and now no more the frost
Candies the grass or casts an icy cream
Upon the silver lake or crystal stream:
But the warm sun thaws the benumbed earth,
And makes it tender; gives a sacred birth.

      *        *        *        *        *        *

Now do a choir of chirping minstrels bring
In triumph to the world the youthful spring!

                                                  Thomas Carew

*The Return of the Birds

I hear, from many a little throat,
   A warble interrupted long;
I hear the robin's flute-like note,
   The bluebird's slenderer song.

Brown meadows and the russet hill,
   Not yet the haunt of grazing herds,
And thickets by the glimmering rill,
   Are all alive with birds.


*NOTE---Reprinted by permission
of D. Appleton & Co. Copyright
, 1903.

The Song Sparrow

"See? See? See? The herald of spring you see!
What matter if winds blow piercingly!
The brook, long ice-bound, struggles through
Its glistening fetters, and murmurs anew
With joy at the freedom the days will bring
When the snow has gone! And I, too, sing!

"See? See? See? A flush of color you see!
The tassels are hung on the budding tree,
Before it has drawn its curtain of leaves
To shade the homes of the birds. Now weaves
The silent spring a carpet fair,
With wind-flower and hepatica there.

"See? See? See? You are glad to welcome me.
You will hear my voice ring cheerfully
Through Summer's heat or days of rain,
Till cruel Winter has come again.
From dawn till dusk, my heart is gay,
And I sing my happy life away.
                                         See? See? See?"



*The Song Sparrow

He comes in March, when winds are strong,
And snow returns to hide the earth;
But still he warms his heart with mirth,
And waits for May. He lingers long
While flowers fade; and every day
Repeats his small, contented lay;
As if to say, we need not fear
The season's change, if love is here
With "Sweet--sweet--sweet--very merry cheer."

He does not wear a Joseph's-coat
Of many colours, smart and gay;
His suit is Quaker brown and gray,
With darker patches at his throat.
And yet of all the well-dressed throng
Not one can sing so brave a song.
It makes the pride of looks appear
A vain and foolish thing, to hear
His "Sweet--sweet--sweet--very merry cheer."

A lofty place he does not love,
But sits by choice, and well at ease
In hedges, and in little trees
That stretch their slender arms above
The meadow-brook; and there he sings
Till all the field with pleasure rings;
And so he tells in every ear
That lowly homes to heaven are near
In "Sweet--sweet--sweet--very merry cheer."

Henry van Dyke

*NOTE--Reprinted by permission
                   of Charles Scribner's Sons.

The Bluebird

O bird of blue, with your robe from the sky,
And a flame in your red-brown breast,
When the home-love burns, from the South you fly,
To the chill of your northern nest.

O wonderful bird with the loyal heart,
To your home and mate you are true;
Our own hearts leap, when the cold March days
Bring the first glad sight of you.

O beautiful bird with the tender note
You sing of the days to be;
You promise bright skies and an earth renewed,
And we wait expectantly.



The Bluebird

Hark! 'tis the bluebird's venturous strain
   High on the old fringed elm at the gate:
      Sweet-voiced, valiant on the swaying bough,
         Alert, elate,
      Dodging the fitful spits of snow,
   New England's poet laureate
Telling us that Spring has come again!

                                      Thomas Bailey Aldrich

From stake to stake a bluebird flew
   Along the fence and sang.

            From Maurice Thompson's "Plowboy"

The Bluebird

I am so blithe and glad today!
At morn I heard a bluebird sing;
The bluebird, warbling soul of spring,
The prophet of the leafy May,--
And I knew the violets under the tree
Would listen and look the birds to see,
Peeping timidly, here and there,
In purple and odor to charm the air;
And the wind-flower lift its rose-veined cup,
In the leaves of the old year buried up;
And all the delicate buds that bloom
On the moss-beds, deep in the forest gloom,
Would stir in their slumber, and catch the strain
And dream of the sun and the April rain,--
For spring has come when the bluebird sings,
And folds in the maple his glossy wings,
And the wind may blow, and the storm may fall,
But the voice of summer is heard in all.

I am so blithe and glad today!
My heart, beside the bluebird, sings,
And folds, serene its weary wings,
And knows the hours lead on to May.

                                    Edna Dean Proctor

Robin's Come

From the elm-tree's topmost bough,
   Hark! the Robin's early song!
Telling one and all that now
   Merry spring-time hastes along;
Welcome tidings dost thou bring
   Little harbinger of spring,
                                Robin's come!

Of the winter we are weary,
   Weary of the frost and snow.
Longing for the sunshine cheery,
   And the brooklet's gurgling flow;
Gladly then we hear thee sing
   The reveille of spring,
                                Robin's come!

Ring it out o'er hill and plain,
   Through the garden's lovely bowers,
Till the green leaves dance again,
   Till the air is sweet with flowers!
Wake the cowslips by the rill,
   Wake the yellow daffodil!
                               Robin's come!

                       William W. Caldwell


Sir Robin

Rollicking Robin is here again.
What does he care for the April rain?
Care for it? Glad of it. Doesn't he know
That the April rain carries off the snow,
And coaxes out leaves to shadow his nest,
And washes his pretty red Easter vest,
And makes the juice of the cherry sweet,
For his hungry little robins to eat?

   *        *        *        *       *        *

Robin, Sir Robin, gay, red-vested knight,
Now you have come to us, summer's in sight;
You never dream of the wonders you bring,
Visions that follow the flash of your wing;
How all the beautiful By-and-by
Around you and after you seems to fly!
Sing on, or eat on, as pleases your mind,
Well have you earned every morsel you find.

                                              Lucy Larcom

Robin Redbreast
(A True Story)

One bright March day, when angry winds
   Had sobbed themselves to sleep,
And fresh sweet Earth, 'neath melting snow
   Spring's secrets sweet held deep,
We heard a robin's ringing call
   From treetop on the lawn;
He sang, "Cheer-up! Cheer-up! I'm here!
   The gloomy winter's gone!"

As if departing Winter heard--
   Was angered at his words--
He straightway blew a cruel blast
   To harm the "early birds."
The snow fell fast, the winds rode high,
   And ice incased the trees;
No food could Robin Redbreast find;
   We dreaded lest he freeze.

We opened wide the window-sash,
   And on the sill we laid
Some tempting crumbs; down in a trice
   Flew Robin, unafraid.
While raged the storm, each day we placed
   His food--a goodly store;
Ere long he gave a gentle tap
   Upon the pane for more!

Long after Spring had spread her feast
   For him, he came to see
What dainty morsels we reserved
   To tempt enticingly.
He hopped into our welcoming home,
   His store-house---rich, replete
And, close beside us, sang to us
   His love-song, tender, sweet.

Four happy years, he and his mate
   Raised broods beside our door;
We fed them all, and every Spring
   Our hearts rejoiced once more
To hear his friendly little tap
   Upon our window-pane.
Then one sad year, ill must have come--
   He ne'er returned again.


The Children In The Wood

He took the children by the hand,
   Tears standing in their eye,
And bade them straightway follow him,
   And look they did not crye;
And two long miles he led them on,
   While they for food complained;
"Staye here," quoth he, "I'll bring you bread,
   When I come back againe."

These prettye babes, with hand in hand
   Went wandering up and downe;
But never more could see the man
   Approaching from the town;
Their prettye lippcs with black-berries,
   Were all besmeared and dyed,
And when they sawe the darksome night,
   They sat them downe and cryed.

Thus wandered these poor innocents,
   Till dcathe did end their grief;
In one another's arms they dyed,
   As wanting due relief;
No burial this "prettye pair"
   Of any man receives,
Till Robin Redbreast piously
   Did cover them with leaves.

                             Thomas Percy, 1765

Why The Robin's Breast Was Red

The Saviour, bowed beneath his cross, climbed up the dreary hill,
   And from the agonizing wreath ran many a crimson rill;
The cruel Roman thrust him on with unrelenting hand,
   Till, staggering slowly, 'mid the crowd, He fell upon the sand.

A little bird that warbled near, that memorable day,
   Flitted around and strove to wrench one single thorn away;
The cruel spike impaled his breast,--and thus, 'tis sweetly said,
   The Robin has his silver vest incarnadined with red.

                                      Selected from James Ryder Randall
                                                  (E. C. Stedman's Anthology)

The Blackbird or Purple Grackle

In clumps of pines and spruces tall
   The blackbirds love to congregate,
And there they creak and squeak; their call
   Sounds like a rusty garden-gate.

Their tails are kite-shaped as they fly;
   You'll see, when they are on the ground,
How knowing is each yellow eye,
   As haughtily they walk around.

Their heads like brilliant jewels gleam
   With bronze and purple, green and blue;
They're not so lovely as they seem,
   For nests they rob--black deeds they do.



*The Red-winged Blackbird

In meadows where a streamlet flows
Or sedges rim a pool,
There swings upon a blade of green
Beside the waters cool,
A bird of black, with "epaulets"
Of red and gold. With glee
He plays upon his "Magic Flute ;"
"O-o-ka-ree! O-o-ka-ree!"


*NOTE.--The upper figure in the picture
is the male bird; the lower, the female.


The Cowbird

In pastures where the cattle graze,
Flock birds with very wicked ways.
Their backs and wings are shining black;
Their heads and breasts are brown. They clack
          And gurgle hideously.

A brown-gray female sneaks away,
Her egg in a small bird's nest to lay;
When hatched, the young one cheats the brood
Of tiny nestlings of their food,
           Till they starve piteously.

Or possibly, the fledgling bold
Will push them out to die of cold.
Full-grown, to a cowbird flock he'll fly;
Bird villain of the deepest dye,
           He prospers shamelessly.



The Phoebe

When blustering March has gentler grown,
A mild day surely brings
A little bird of olive brown,
With dusky head and wings,
And soft white breast. He's journeyed north
Without his well-loved mate;
Dejectedly upon a twig
Or fence-post, he'll await
Her coming; then contentedly
They'll seek some sheltered nook,
Beneath a bridge, perchance, and build
Above a murmuring brook.
"Phoé-be! Phoé-be!" Hear him now,
From the pussy-willow bough!



The Flicker
Golden-Winged Woodpecker

Gay, golden-shafted flicker is here,
With his wings all brightly lined;
On his blue-gray head with its long strong bill,
A crescent of red you'll find;
He wears a brown coat and a black mustache,
And he shows a patch of white
Above his sharply-pointed tail,
When he takes his rapid flight.

His breast and back are flecked with black;
A collar dark he wears.
His feet are strong, and his four toes
Are so arranged, in pairs,
That he can climb the trunks of trees
Where his food of grubs is found;
More frequently his sticky tongue
Seeks ants upon the ground.

Now hear him speak! He says, "Che-ack!"
Or calls to lazy boys,
"Oh, waké-up, waké-up, waké-up, you!"
He'll rouse you with his noise.
And when his heart beats high, he sings,
'Tm Flick-Flick-Flick-Flick-Flicker!"
Or fast and faster still it rings,



The Meadowlark

When the sweet brown earth is upturned in the spring,
    And all the sky is clear,
I make the fields and the heavens ring;
My coat is brown like my Mother Earth,
    My voice is full of cheer;
My heart is glad at the springtime's birth;

My breast is gold like the sun's warm rays
    With a band like a rain-cloud dark;
My striped head from the fields I raise;
My mate lies low in her nest of grass,
    And I love to hover near;
I sing to her heart as the sweet days pass,

And when the nestlings begin to fly,
    They follow without a fear;
Two feathers white in my tail they spy;

When the meadows are yellow with ripened grain,
    And the days are crisp and clear,
I share the bounty I've helped to gain;



The Mourning Dove

Seek open woods or tree-girt fields
    Beneath a sky of blue;
A plaintive voice such woodland yields--

You'll rarely glimpse the gray-brown wing
    Or breast of topaz hue,
Or glistening head--a jewelled thing;
    You'll hear, "Coo-coo-a-coo."

"Why grievest thou, O Mourning Dove?
    Is thy sweet mate untrue?"
He only answers--to his love--
    "Coo-coo-I love-you."

By chance you'll find the fiat, crude nest,
    Eggs white, or babies two;
'Tis not the young, in voice distressed,
    That cry, "Coo-coo-a-coo !"

Each morn and night, on swiftest wings
    To waters hid from view,
Doves fly; drink deep of crystal springs,
    And murmur, "Coo-a-coo."



*The Kingfisher

By a wooded stream or a clear cool pond,
    Or the shores of a shining lake,
A watchful sentinel silently stands.
    When the rippling waters break,
And reveal a glistening fin or scale,
    This blue-coat dashes in,
With his watchman's rattle sounding loud;
    He makes a frightful din!

With the sword that he wears in his plumed cap,
    He smites his writhing prey;
If tiny, he swallows the fish head-first;
    If large, he bears it away
And beats it to death on the bough of a tree;
    Then back to the bank he will go,
Where his children eagerly wait for him,
    In their famous long "King-row."

His rattle he sounds as he nears his home--
    Their baby rattles respond;
To enter, he crowds the one in front
    Till it pushes the others beyond.
Now backward they run through the tunneled clay
    That their parents hollowed out,
Where they quarrel and tease and bite and gorge,
    And pull the fish about.

If a blustering storm piles high the waves,
    Or streams are sullied with mud,
Without fish-dinners these children must go,
    Though frogs may be caught near the flood.
For lizards and mollusks the parents then search--
   Grasshoppers and crickets are found;
And they hasten away to southern climes,
   When waters become ice-bound.



The Legend of The Kingfisher

Bold Æolus was king of the winds,
And he dwelt on a wondrous isle;
His palace rose high from a rocky cliff--
'Twas visible many a mile.

Old Neptune knew when the Wind's sons played,
And when they quarreled, too;
For when rude Boreas rode from the North,
He blew and blew and blew!

The gentle Zephyrus sprang from the West;
From the East young Eurus came,
While Notus hailed from the South--and oft
They played a riotous game.

Their sister, fair Halcyone,
Wed Ceyx, a prince, who sailed
On a voyage long, when Æolus
And Boreas howled and wailed.

His wife knew all the terrors dread
That rode with a storm at sea;
But Ceyx would pay no heed to her fears,
And set sail recklessly.

His ship was tossed like a tiny shell
And swallowed at last by the sea;
As he drowned, he prayed that his body be borne
To his sweet Halcyone.

Then Morpheus flew on silent wings
To her couch, at dead of night;
In a dream, he told of her husband's fate,
And she wakened in a fright.

She sprang from her bed with a piercing shriek
And speedily sought the shore;
At dawn she beheld his body afloat.
Above the breakers roar

Was heard her cry of agony;
'Neath the waves she was lost to view,
To arise again as a marvelous bird
With a crown and a robe of blue.

Then Jove rebuked old Æolus--
Forbade the winds to blow
For a fortnight, that Halcyone
A brooding peace might know.

And now when come the "Halcyon days,"
We seek the waters clear,
And watch this king-of-fishers flash-
'Tis the magic time of the year.


The Kingfisher

    He laughs by the summer stream
    Where the lilies nod and dream,
As through the sheen of water cool and clear,
He sees the chub and sunfish cutting sheer.

    His are resplendent eyes;
    His mien is kingliwise;
And down the May wind rides he like a king,
With more than royal purple on his wing.

    His palace is the brake
   Where the rushes shine and shake;
His music is the murmur of the stream,
And that leaLrustle where the lilies dream.

    Such life as his would be
    A more than heaven to me;
All sun, all bloom, all happy weather,
All joys bound in a sheaf together.

    No wonder he laughs so loud!
    No wonder he looks so proud!
There are great kings would give their royalty
To have one day of his felicity!

                                    Maurice Thompson

The Legend the first Woodpecker

Once on a time, down to the earth,
    The wise "Great Spirit" came;
Disguised as an aged man, he sought
    A wigwam's leaping flame.
"I am faint; pray give me food," he begged;
    And the Indian squaw replied,
"I'll bake you a cake of my golden meal."
    "I will wait," the Spirit sighed.

When the cake was done, it had grown in size;
    "It is far too big," thought she.
Aloud she said, "If you longer wait,
    I will make one presently."
When the second was baked, it, too, had grown--
    A monstrous cake it looked;
"'Tis more than enough for a feast," she thought;
    She said, "It is not well-cooked."

The third, the smallest of all, became
    By the Spirit's magic spell,
So great that she laid it away with the rest,
    And cried, "I know full well
You deserve no food. Begone, I say!
    In the bark of the forest trees
You can find enough for such as you!"
    Then she dropped upon her knees.

For the Spirit arose, aflame with wrath,
And he spake to her angrily.
"Thou art selfish and mean, and quite unfit,
An Indian woman to be.
Go out to the trees and search for your food!"
She felt herself grow small;
Wings grew from her sides, and away she flew,
With a woodpecker's noisy call."Quirk! Quir-r-k!
For my food I must work!"



The Field Sparrow

You are only a voice of the fields, sweet sprite,
    Where we watch for your bright brown head,
For the golden flush o'er your breast of white,
    And your bill of softest red.

When we venture near, you slip away,
    And hide within the brush,
Where joyously you sing all day,
    And at evening's solemn hush.

The summer may wane--elusively
    You may have escaped our view,
But your tender voice, alluringly,
    Has drawn our hearts to you.

"Chee-wee, chee-wee, thee-wee!
Dee-dee-dee, de-de-de-de-dee!"



The Field Sparrow

A bubble of music floats
    The slope of the hillside over;
A little wandering sparrow's notes;
    And the bloom of yarrow and clover,
And the smell of sweet-fern and the bayberry leaf,
    On his ripple of song are stealing;
For he is a chartered thief,
    The wealth of the fields revealing.

One syllable, clear and soft
    As a raindrop's silvery patter,
Or a tinkling fairy-bell, heard aloft
    In the midst of the merry chatter
Of robin and linnet and wren and jay,
    One syllable, oft repeated:
He has but a word to say,
    And of that he will not be cheated.

The singer I have not seen;
    But the song I arise and follow
The brown hills over, the pastures green,
    And into the sunlit hollow,
With a joy that his life to mine has lent.
    I can feel my glad eyes glisten,
Though he hides in his happy tent
    While I stand outside, and listen.

This way would I also sing,
    My dear little hillside neighbor!
A tender carol of peace to bring
    To the sunburnt fields of labor
Is better than making a loud ado;
    Trill on, amid clover and yarrow!
There's a heart-beat echoing you,
    And blessing you, blithe little sparrow!

                                             Lucy Larcom

The Vesper Sparrow

When the meadows are brown, or flushed with green,
    And the lark's glad note rings clear;
When the field-sparrow's voice like a silver bell
    Chimes a melody sweet to hear;
A small brown bird with bay-capped wings,
    And feathers white in his tail,
Flutters along by a roadside hedge,
    Or alights on a zigzag rail;
And breathes out a song entrancing,
    Of a beauty surpassed by few--
A wistful, plaintive, minor strain--
    "O Sweetheart, I love you!"

When a mist of green o'erspreads the trees,
    And corals and rubies gay
Are hung on the maple and red-bud boughs,
    And the brooks are babbling away;
When the setting sun goes down in a glow
    Of the purest primrose gold,
And the pearly east reflects a flush
    From the glories the west doth hold;
This brown bird then, with a soul in his voice,
    Sings to his mate so true,
The tenderest song of the April choir--
    "O, Sweetheart, I love you!"



The Vesper Sparrow

It comes from childhood land,
    Where summer days are long
And summer eves are bland,--
    A lulling good-night song.

Upon a pasture stone,
    Against the fading west,
A small bird sings alone,
    Then dives and finds its nest.

The evening star has heard,
    And flutters into sight;
O childhood's vesper-bird,
    My heart calls back, Good Night.

                      Edith M. Thomas

The Chipping Sparrow

Some sparrows live in open fields
    Or in hedges' safe retreat;
You dearly love the haunts of men--
    The garden, orchard, street;
You smallest of all sparrow-folk,
    Your sweet, confiding way
Endears you to your human friends;
    We love your homely lay:
O Chip-py, Chip-py, Chip-py, Chip-py,
    Chip-py, Chip-py, Chip-py!

You wear a dark brown, striped coat,
    A vest of grayish white;
A reddish cap, with line of gray
    Above your eyes so bright,
And streak of black behind each eye
    Like spectacles' neat bow;
You don a tiny dull-brown cap
    When to the South you go:
O Chippy, Chippy, Chippy, Chippy,
    Chippy, Chippy, Chippy!

Your tiny nest of rootlets fine
    With horsehair deftly lined,
And mottled blue-green eggs within,
    Delightedly we'll find
In hanging vines or bushes low,
    That grow beside our door;
We welcome you on April days
    As we have done of yore:
O Chippy, Chippy, Chippy, Chippy,
    Chippy, Chippy, Chippy!



The Ground Robin,
Chewink, Towhee or Charee

I'm a puzzling bird; 'tis hard to tell
Just who I am, till you know me well.

"The oriole's here"! the children say.
He does not arrive till the first of May.

I come in April, when days are cold,
And stay until forests are red and gold.

I welcome the early blossoms fair,
And linger till asters are shining there.

I'm not Robin Redbreast, as one might think,--
Though I'm called "Ground Robin", or just "Chewink",--

For I'm rufous and black, with a breast of white,
And two ashen tail-feathers showing in flight.

When I speak to my mate, I say, "Towhee?"
Or call her in French, "Chérie? Chérie?"

To the lovers of spring who seek for a sign,
I chant this message, line by line:

"Chip-chur! Pussy-Pussy-Willow!
Chip-chur! Come-and-get-your-fill-oh!"



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