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Part Three:

The Later Spring Birds

The Migration of Birds

The night comes on apace. The rain,
The warm, still rain, falls soft again.
I feel the breath of growing things;
I seem to hear the whir of wings
Of countless birds, just marshaling
Their ranks for long, long journeying.

        *        *        *        *        *

The songsters bold that fly by day,
Near gleaming waters wing their way.
Their timid fellows shun the light--
God guides them through the dusky night.
But every heart holds home-love strong
Enough to brave the distance long.


The Tree Swallow

First of the swallow host they speed
    To the North, by rivers and silver shores;
Lustrous green like a marsh's reed,
    Fleecy white like the cloud that soars
Over these shimmering, flashing things
    That sweetly warble in ecstasy,
And circle about with their powerful wings
    Till they seek their nests in a hollow tree.



Little birds sit on the telegraph-wires,
    And chitter, and flitter, and fold their wings;
Maybe they think that for them and their sires
    Stretched always, on purpose, those wonderful strings:
And perhaps the Thought that the world inspires
    Did plan for the birds, among other things.

Little birds sit on the slender lines,
    And the news of the world runs under their feet:
How value rises, and how declines,
    How kings with their armies in battle meet;
And all the while, 'mid the soundless signs,
    They chirp their small gossipings, foolish-sweet.

                                                  Mrs. A. D. T. Whitney

The Barn Swallow

And after April, when May follows,
And the white-throat builds, and all the swallows!


We come from the land of the South so gay,
That is decked with flowers when the North is drear;
We hear the alluring voice of May,
As she whispers softly, "Spring is here!"

With a flutter of joy, for the journey long
Our wings we spread with a tireless flight,
Beguiling the hours with a twittering song,
As we skim the pools near the iris bright.

Our steel-blue backs like the waters shine,
Our breasts glow warm like the red-brown clay;
We are blue birds fleet of the blossom-time,
Winging and singing the days away.

The garlanded trees in the orchard fair,
And lilac-plumes in the garden, fling
Their perfume out on the rain-washed air--
Of no lovelier vision could swallows sing!



How the Swallow's Tail Became Forked
(A Legend)

"Great Spirit" summoned to a grove
    Bird, beast and creeping thing,
That they might ask what boon they would,
    Or any grievance bring.

Fleet-winged birds and insects came:
    The swallow, swift and owl,
Mosquito, hornet, bee and wasp,
    And later, fluttering fowl.

Next sped the squirrel, rabbit, fox,
    Swift-footed stag and doe;
Then bear and wolf; and last of all,
    The tortoise, ever slow.

Each told how others preyed on him,
    Each asked some boon conferred;
Then Man appeared, their common foe,
    And none dared speak a word.

Man said, "Great Spirit, only birds
    My true friends seem to be;
The others bite or scratch or sting--
    The snake most dangerously."

Bee buzzed, Owl hooted, Serpent hissed,
    And Squirrel chattered loud;
Wolf howled, Bear growled. Great Spirit's voice
    Hushed the rebellious crowd.

"Man, you are right; you are attacked
    By creatures, great and small.
Mosquito, sheathe your sting, and fly
    To every beast; ask all

How they can best make friends with Man."
    Away Mosquito flew
And stung them all except the snake--
    A spiteful thing to do.

Then Swallow, darting swiftly down,
    Bit out Mosquito's tongue,
And since that day he cannot speak--
    "Bz-bz--bz-bz"--he's sung.

The treacherous serpent glided forth
    The friend of Man to slay;
He struck and bit but Swallow flew
    Too fast to be his prey.

Old Snake's curved, venomed mouth tore part
    Of Swallow's tail away;
Two sharply-pointed forks remained--
    You'll find them there today.


The Purple Martin

Bird beloved by keen-eyed Indians,
    "Bird that never rests ;"
Cherished, too, by southern negroes,
    Who provide them nests,
Knowing thus their tiny chickens
    Safe from hawks will be;
Valued, too, by northern farmers,
    As crows' enemy.

Martins seek the sheltering houses,
    Placed where insects hum
Midst a tangle of sweet blossoms;
    But if sparrows come,
The noisy, selfish, rude intruders
    For those homes will fight,
Till the vanquished purple martins
    Take a speedy flight.



                                  This guest of summer,
The temple-haunting martlet, does approve
By his loved mansionery that the heaven's breath
Smells wooingly here: no jutty, frieze,
Buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird
Hath made his pendant bed.

                              Shakespeare: "Macbeth"

The Chimney Swift

Some soft spring day, athwart the sky,
A bird like a "bow-and-arrow" speeds by
From tropic lands in the distant South.
'Tis the twittering Swift, that with open mouth
And unwearying wings seeks insect prey;
And countless others arrive straightway.

Such flapping and whirling and wheeling about,
Till the sun goes down, and the stars come out!
Then hollow trees they speedily seek,
Or chimneys unused; with feet tiny and weak
And strong pointed tails, to the walls they cling.
A flock of a thousand the night will bring!

Their nests are pockets against the wall,
Built deftly of sticks, which rarely fall
Because they are fastened too snug with a glue
From the mouths of these birds of sable hue.
The eggs of the swifts are of purest white,
Like others in nests that are hidden from sight.



The Nighthawk

In the far-off land of China,
    One beholds a curious sight.
On the shoes of little children,
    Eyes are fashioned, wondrous bright,
So the small feet shall not stumble,
    But shall see the way to go;
And on boats' prows eyes are painted
    That shall guide them, safe and slow.

There are birds that fly at twilight,
    With a call incessant, loud,
Throats white-banded, mouths wide open--
    Busy, dusky, night-hawk crowd.
As they circle in the darkness,
    Sharpest eyesight theirs must be;
Bright eyes on their wings seem painted
    That shall guide them carefully.

Gracefully they fly o'er housetops;
    Then with wings half-closed, dive down,
Till you fear they'll dash to pieces
    'Gainst the chimneys of the town.
They are slumbering at midnight,
    But at dawn may fly about;
Often resting till the sun sets,
    When their insect prey comes out.



The Whip-poor-will

When wingèd creatures for the night
    Are safely hid away,
And even swifts and nighthawks bold
    Have ceased to search for prey;
When owls, with round, wide-open eyes
    Begin to prowl about--
Mysteriously, with noiseless wings,
    A gentle bird comes out
Of densest thickets, where he hides--
    And rarely is he found;
He seems a lichen on a log,
    A dead leaf on the ground.

He opens wide his monstrous mouth,
    All fringed with bristling hair,
Entangling gnats and soft-winged moths
    In the net-like meshes there.
While sleeps the world, these shadow birds
    For long hours sweep the sky,
And rid the land of countless pests
    Their large bright eyes espy.
At times they pause, and weirdly call
    When all around is still--
And best when moonlight floods the earth--
    "Whip-poor-will! Whip-poor-will! Whip-poor-will!"



The House Wren

When apple-blooms are hanging
    On the boughs like rosy shells,
And the warm, soft rain is bringing
    All that budding May foretells,

If you waken in the morning
    When the birds their matins sing,
Loudest, clearest, fullest, gladdest
    Of the voices of the spring

Burst the wren's sweet notes of rapture;
    And you wonder that so strong
Is the throat of such small creature,
    To pour forth so great a song.

        *        *        *        *        *

You may find him in the orchard,
    In a suit, black-checked and brown,
With a white vest. Watch his restless
    Tiny tail go up and down!

When the honeymoon is over,
    Little John and Jenny Wren
Choose a nesting-spot unusual,
    Near the dwelling-place of men:

Flower-pot, can or hanging milk-pail,
    Worn-out shoe, or hat of straw,
Pocket of a coat discarded,--
    Queerest home you ever saw.

Tiny, hungry, clamoring babies
    Make their busy parents work
Bringing choicest, tenderest morsels;
    Faithful Jenny does not shirk.

But her irritable temper
    Makes her quarrel with her spouse;
And she's not a pleasant neighbor,
    Valiantly she guards her house.

She may drive away intruders,
    Placing sticks across her door
If the entrance is too spacious;
    From her throat loud scoldings pour.

For her skill, and her devotion
    To her growing family,
We admire her; and without her
    Quite bereft our spring would be.



*The Oven-Bird or Gold-Crowned Thrush

Where the Veery breathes through organ-pipes
     And the Wood Thrush plays a flute,
Where Hermit Thrushes' psalms intoned
     At sunset, hold us mute;
Where the Red-eyed Vireo preaches long,
     As though, like Pharisee,
For his "much-speaking" he'll be heard,
     Exhorting fervently,--
Another dweller of the woods
     Pleads like the tireless preacher,
Imploring,--" Teacher-- Teacher--

He, gold-crowned thrush, eludes our gaze;
     But wheresoe'er we stray,
We hear his clear crescendo phrase
     Now near, now far away.
These woodland warblers! Hear them say,
     "Search all the forest over,
For it will prove a treasure-house,
     With riches to discover
Which last as long as life itself!
     This place of mystery
Makes wondrous revelations
     Of God's power and majesty."



The Oven-Bird

In the hollows of the mountains,
In the valleys spreading from them,
Stand the rustling broad-leaved forests,
Trees whose leaves are shed in autumn.

Underneath them lie the leaf beds
Resting one upon another
Laid there yearly by the storm winds;
Pressed and smoothed by winter snow-drifts.

In the days of spring migrations,
Days when warbler hosts move northward,
To the forests, to the leaf-beds,
Comes the tiny oven-builder.

Daintily the leaves he tiptoes;
Underneath them builds his oven,
Arched and framed with last year's oak-leaves,
Roofed and walled against the raindrops.

Hour by hour his voice he raises,
Mingling with the red-eye's snatches,
Answering to the hermit's anthem;
Rising--falling, like a wind breath.

Strange, ventriloquous his music,
Far away when close beside one;
Near at hand when seeming distant;
Weird--his plaintive accrescendo.

Teach us! Teach us! in his asking,
Uttered to the Omnipresent:
Teach us! teach us! comes responsive
From the solemn listening forest.

When the whip-poor-will is clucking,
When the bats unfurl their canvas,
When dim twilight rules the forest,
Soaring towards the high stars' radiance
Far above the highest treetop
Singing goes this sweet Accentor.

Noontide never sees this soaring,
Midday never hears this music,
Only at the hour of slumber,
Only once, as day is dying,
When the perils and the sorrows,
When the blessings and the raptures,
One and all have joined the finished,
Does this sweet-toned forest singer
Urge his wings towards endless ether,
Hover high a single moment
Pouring out his spirit's gladness
Toward the Source of life and being.

                                                                  Frank Bolles

*NOTE.--In Chapman's "Birds of Eastern North America,"
the ovenbird's song is rendered, "Teacher, teacher, TEACHER,
TEACHER, TEACHER," according to John Burroughs
written description of it.

(Used by permission of D. Appleton & Co. Copyright, 1903.)

The Wood Thrush

We heed thy call, O bird of the wood,
    As swift as our feet can fly
To the forest dim, holding infinite good
    For the soul and the ear and the eye.

Thou art worthy to dwell in such sacred spot,
    Bird brown as the last year's leaves,
With thy lustrous eyes and thy soft, flecked breast,
    And a song that enchantment weaves.

Is thy hymn of praise to the God of the Spring?
    And dost thou, too, receive
A strength renewed from the Giver of Life?
    Our reverent hearts so believe.



                                 At even
Like liquid pearls fresh showered from heaven,
The high notes of the lone wood-thrush
Fall on the forest's holy hush.

                       John Townsend Trowbridge

                 At the bent spray's edge,
                 That's the wise thrush.


This is a spray the Bird clung to,
   Making it blossom with pleasure,
Ere the high treetop she clung to,
   Fit for her nest and her treasure.
   Oh, what a hope beyond measure
Was the poor spray's, which the flying feet hung to--
So to be singled out, built in, and sung to!

                       Browning: From "Misconceptions"

The Brown Thrasher

                       He sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
That first fine careless rapture!


Darting about in the thickets,
   His red-brown coat to veil,
Foraging there amongst dead leaves,
   Thrashing his long brown tail;
Perching aloft in the treetops,
   Where all may hear and see,
Carols the bright Brown Thrasher,
   Long and melodiously.

"Listen, O listen!" he's saying;
   "Glisten, O glisten, you Brook!
The sweet warm showers have beguiled the flowers;
   O look! dear children, look!
The golden sun is shining,
   The earth is in gay array;
The world is rife with a wealth of life!
   'Tis May, fair winsome May!"



The Throstle

(The song of the English throstle or thrush resembles
that of our thrasher).

"Summer is coming, summer is coming.
    I know it, I know it, I know it.
Light again, leaf again, life again, love again!"
    Yes, my wild little Poet.

Sing the new year in under the blue.
    Last year you sang it as gladly.
"New, new, new, new !" Is it then so new
    That you should carol so madly?

"Love again, song again, nest again, young again,"
    Never a prophet so crazy!
And hardly a daisy as yet, little friend,
    See, there is hardly a daisy.

"Here again, here, here, here, happy year!"
    O warble unchidden, unbidden!
Summer is coming, is coming, my dear,
    And all the winters are hidden.


       And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
       He, too, is no mean preacher:
       Come forth into the light of things,
       Let Nature be your Teacher.


The Catbird

Gay and restless are the catbirds,
   Moving tails incessantly;
Spreading them like vainest peacocks,
   Preening feathers jauntily.

Now they crouch like Maltese kittens--
   Just two soft gray fluffy balls;
Next they lengthen their lithe bodies,
   Flapping wings, with catlike calls.

Loving, tender, anxious Mother
   Guards her rough scrap-basket nest;
Kindly, busy, helpful Father
   Feeds young orphaned birds distressed.

He defends the nests of others,
   Likes to build his own near Man;
Knows he's earned his share of cherries,
   Helps himself whene'er he can.

Intelligent, a clever mimic,
   Lovable and friendly bird;
When he sings, more skilled performer
   In our North is rarely heard.



The Catbird

He sits on a branch of yon blossoming brush
This madcap cousin of robin and thrush,
And sings without ceasing the whole morning long;
Now wild, now tender, the wayward song
That flows from his soft, gray, fluttering throat;
But often he stops in his sweetest note,
And, shaking a flower from the blossoming bough,
          Drawls out, "Mi-eu, mi-ow!"

Dear merry mocker, your mimic art
Makes drowsy Grimalkin awake with a start,
And peer all around with a puzzled air,--
For who would suppose that one would dare
To mimic the voice of a mortal foe!
You're safe on the bough, as well you know;
And if ever a bird could laugh, 'tis you,
          Drawling, "Mi-ow, mi-eu!"

                                             Edith M. Thomas

The Mockingbird

A singer, one hour, with yearning heart,
Who knows all the nicer ways of his art,
With a soul so full of poesy
That we listen to him in ecstasy.
But hark! what is that? Distinctly we hear
The pop of a cork, a whistle clear,
A call to a dog, a whip-poor-will's cry,
A phoebe's hoarse note. Against the blue sky,
The same gray-coated, white-vested bird
Is uttering all the sounds we have heard.

The poets sing oft of his exquisite lays,
But never reveal the pranks he plays;
How he steals soft cotton to line his nest,
And to animals proves a troublesome pest.
On the back of a yelping dog he's been spied,
Pulling out hairs while taking a ride;
The cats, forgetting that he is their prey,
As soon as they see him, slink away.
O clever bird, we know you well,
Though away "down South" and "out West" you dwell.



The Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

You slender, shy and dovelike bird,
   All white and brownish gray,
With rufous wings, black, spotted tail,
   Bill yellow half the way,
You're rarely seen, not often heard;
   Your "Kuk-kuk-kuk-kuk-eoo",
Brings eager eyes to woodland glades
   To catch a glimpse of you.



To The Cuckoo

O blithe New-comer! I have heard,
     I hear thee and rejoice.
O Cuckoo! shall I call thee Bird,
    Or but a wandering Voice?

        *        *        *        *        *

Thrice welcome, darling of the Spring!
    Even yet thou art to me
No bird, but an invisible thing,
    A voice, a mystery.

        *        *        *        *        *

To seek thee did I often rove
    Through woods and on the green;
And thou wert still a hope, a love;
    Still longed for, never seen.


The Legend of the First Humming-Bird

Once on a time, two Indians sped
    From a forest at dead of night,
When they came on a fiery mound, cone-shaped,--
    A frightful, awesome sight.

Against the sky they saw it glow
    With a flickering, lurid gleam;
Great yawning cracks in its riven side
    Showed fire in every seam.

Smoke floated away from its flaming top,
    Hid stars and darkened the sky;
"Great Spirit's wigwam it must be,"
    They said with a frightened cry.

"How angry he must be with our tribe!"
    They thought, and could not sleep;
When morning dawned, their fears were soothed,
    For 'twas only a mountain steep.

Its glow had faded in broad daylight,
    And they climbed to its summit high;
In a hollow lay Fire Spirit's home,
    But it did not terrify.

They hastened down to tell the tribe
    Their wigwams thither to bear,
For the flames would light their winter fires,
    And cold could be conquered there.

For many a month the Indians dwelt
    At the foot of the mountain high,
And the children were taught to call it friend;
    They laughed when it brightened the sky.

One night when the people were all asleep,
    The flames had a frolic gay;
They leaped and pranced like warriors bold
    In a war-dance or a fray.

They flung great rocks up toward the sky,
    Then down the slopes they ran;
They would not heed Fire Spirit's call
    As their mad race began.

They leaped on trees, devoured the leaves,
    Destroyed the flowers fair;
Drove birds away from their hidden nests,
    And every beast from its lair.

They poured down melted rock, red-hot,
    In their frantic, furious play;
And frightened, the saddened Indians fled
    When their homes were swept away.

At last Great Spirit's voice rang out;
    "These wicked deeds must cease!
You all must die, that the children of men
    And the beasts may live in peace."

Fire Spirit begged her Master great
    To remember good deeds performed,
How frost and cold she had driven away,
    How the people she oft had warmed.

Great Spirit heeded her not, but struck
    The mountain a heavy blow
With his powerful club; and cold and dead
    Her fires began to grow.

One beautiful little flame was left.
    It promised that it would fly
Far, far away from the mountain-top,
    If only it need not die.

Great Spirit gave it a gentle touch,
    And it took the form of a bird;
From its sides grew delicate, filmy wings
    That buzzed and hummed and whirred.

A red flame burned at its tiny throat--
    On its back flashed burnished gold;
Then forth it sped as a humming-bird,
    And this is the tale I was told.



The Humming-Bird

          Dancer of air,
Flashing thy flight across the noontide hour,
To pierce and pass ere it is full aware
          Each wondering flower!

          Jewelled coryphée,
With quivering wings like shielding gauze outspread,
And measure like a gleaming shuttle's play
          With unseen thread!

          The phlox, milk-white,
Sways to thy whirling; stirs each warm rose breast;
But not for these thy palpitant delight,
          Thy rhythmic quest;

          Swift weaves thy maze
Where flaunts the trumpet-vine its scarlet pride,
Where softer fire, behind its chaliced blaze,
          Doth fluttering hide.

          The grave thrush sings
His love-call, and the nightingale's romance
Throbs through the twilight; thou hast but thy wings,
          Thy sun-thrilled dance.

          Yet doth love's glow
Burn in the ruby of thy restless throat,
Guiding thy voiceless ecstasy to know
          The richest note

          Of brooding thrush!
Now for thy joy the emptied air doth long;
Thine is the nested silence, and the hush
          That needs no song.

                                      Ednah Proctor Clarke

The Indigo-Bird or Indigo Bunting

His plumage is bright as the sapphire blue
     That dwells in the depths of Italy's sea,
And blends with the hidden emerald hue
     To glint and glisten shimmeringly.
His song bursts forth like the brooklet's rush,
     Or murmuring waves' sweet melody;
And even when falls midsummer's hush,
     The indigo-bird sings rapturously:
"See, see, sweet, sweet, chur, chur;
     Wish, wish, wish, -- chur, chur, chur."



The Baltimore Oriole

W      W
   h        h
     e        e
       w!      w! A whistle clear
    As a silver flute sounds sweet;
And a lively chatter falls on the ear,
    From the oriole, gay and fleet.

A flash of flame from a swaying bough
    Leaps from the trees to the skies;
Like a meteor swift, the "fire-bird" now
    Leaves a glowing trail as he flies.

This restless, eager, burning bird
   Never his light doth hide;
Where his beauty is seen, or his song is heard,
    Joy on his wings doth ride.



The Oriole

Hush I 'tis he!
My Oriole, my glance of summer fire
Is come at last;  *       *        *         *
*          *          *        *        *         *
Heave, ho! Heave, ho! he whistles
*          * Once more, now! and a flash
Lightens across the sunlight to the elm
Where his mate dangles at her cup of felt.


To An Oriole

How falls it, Oriole, thou hast come to fly
In tropic splendor through our northern sky?

At some glad moment was it Nature's choice
To dower a scrap of sunset with a voice?

Or did an orange tulip, flaked with black,
In some forgotten garden, ages back,

Yearning toward Heaven until its wish was heard,
Desire unspeakably to be a bird?

                                            Edgar Fawcett

*The Orchard Oriole

More modest in dress is this chestnut bird,
     With his glossy black shoulders and head,
Than his flaming cousin in orange and jet;
     And gentler, too, is he bred.

His beauty he hides amidst blossoming boughs,
     Or the leaves of the maple-tree;
But his voice like a dryad's in the wood,
     Makes a rich, deep rhapsody.


*NOTE.--The upper figure in the picture is
the adult male; the middle figure, the young male;
the lower figure, the female.
                                      Audubon Leaflet.


The Scarlet Tanager

Why seems the world so fair to-day?
     I sought the magic wood,
Where stately trees in fresh array
     And silent beauty stood.

And lo! within a dim, green bower
     A brilliant blossom hung.
But, suddenly, my scarlet flower
     Jet wings to the breezes flung!

To his olive mate he called "Chip-chur!"
     And he sang to her, hidden away,
The robinqike song of the tanager,
     A rhythmical roundelay.



The Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

I'm a dusky bird with the breast of a rose,
And I come when the pale wake-robin blows.

I've a joyous song like the robin's note,
Mellow and rich, from my throbbing throat.

I am one of the songsters that sing at night,
When the stars shine clear or the moon is bright.



The Bobolink

No poet can sing as he would of you!
No trained musician, with hearing true,
Can catch each wonderful liquid note
That bubbles and gurgles and wells from your throat.
He can listen with soul enthralled, and yield
To the spell of the roadside or the field
Where you dart about, and perch and swing
On grass or stalk. With abandon you wing
Over the meadows with showers impearled,
Scattering joy abroad in the world.
Flitting, alighting, you sing all day
Till the golden West grows softest gray.



*Robert of Lincoln

Merrily swinging on brier and weed,
   Near to the nest of his little dame,
Over the mountain-side or mead,
   Robert of Lincoln is telling his name:
      Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
      Spink, spank, spink;
Snug and safe is that nest of ours,
Hidden among the summer flowers.
      Chee, chee, chee.

Robert of Lincoln is gayly drest,
   Wearing a bright black wedding-coat;
White are his shoulders and white his crest.
   Hear him call in his merry note:
      Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
      Spink, spank, spink;
Look, what a nice new coat is mine,
Sure there was never a bird so fine.
      Chee, chee, chee.

Robert of Lincoln's Quaker wife,
   Pretty and quiet, with plain brown wings,
Passing at home a patient life,
   Broods in the grass while her husband sings:
      Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
      Spink, spank, spink;
Brood, kind creature; you need not fear
Thieves and robbers while I am here.
      Chee, chee, chee.

Modest and shy as a nun is she;
   One weak chirp is her only note.
Braggart and prince of braggarts is he,
   Pouring boasts from his little throat:
      Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
      Spink, spank, spink;
Never was I afraid of man;
Catch me, cowardly knaves, if you can!
   Chee, chee, chee.

Six white eggs on a bed of hay,
   Flecked with purple, a pretty sight!
There as the mother sits all day,
   Robert is singing with all his might:
      Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
      Spink, spank, spink;
Nice good wife that never goes out,
Keeping house while I frolic about.
      Chee, chee, chee.

Soon as the little ones chip the shell,
   Six wide mouths are open for food;
Robert of Lincoln bestirs him well,
   Gathering seed for the hungry brood.
      Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
      Spink, spank, spink;
This new life is likely to be
Hard for a gay young fellow like me.
      Chee, chee, chee.

Robert of Lincoln at length is made
   Sober with work, and silent with care,
Off is his holiday garment laid,
   Half forgotten that merry air:
      Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
      Spink, spank, spink;
Nobody knows but my mate and I
Where our nest and our nestlings lie.
      Chee, ehee, ehee.

Summer wanes; the children are grown;
   Fun and frolic no more he knows;
Robert of Lincoln's a humdrum crone;
   Off he flies, and we sing as he goes:
      Bob-o'-link, bob-o'-link,
      Spink, spank, spink;
When you can pipe that merry old strain,
Robert of Lincoln, come back again.
      Chee, ehee, ehee.

                                            William Cullen Bryant

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

The Goldfinch

This child of Apollo has wings of night,
But a nature as glad as the sun's rays bright.

His musical voice is heard at his play,
As he merrily dances his days away.

He worships the Muse, Terpsichore;
And he sings, as he leaps,


*NOTE.--Call given thus in Mr. Frank Chapman's
"Birds of Eastern North America." Used by permission
of D. Appleton & Co. Copyright, 1903.


The Goldfinch

Sometimes goldfinches one by one will drop
From low-hung branches; little space they stop
And sip and twitter, and their feathers sleek,
Then off at once, as in a wanton freak;
Or perhaps to show their black and golden wings,
Pausing upon their yellow flutterings.


The Yellow Warbler

"O, che-che-che-che-che-a-wee?"
In treetops winging rapidly,
The Summer Yellow-Bird you'll see.
He wears no tiny cap of black;
His wings and tail are green. He's back
In blossom-time when insects breed;
He cannot live on hardy seed
Like merry Goldfinch. Shy is he;
And sweetly from the apple-tree,
Sings: "Che - che - che - che - che - a-wee?"



O joy of life, O joy of love!
When cloudless skies are blue above,
In starry spring!
When happy warblers on the wing
Do mating build their nests and sing.
O joy of life!

                                   Stuart Sterne

The Maryland Yellow-Throat

A host of warblers northward come in May,
And linger with us only one brief day;
You, Yellow-throated Warbler, love to stay.

We glimpse your dainty coat of olive green,
Your breast and throat of shimmering yellow sheen
And mask of black, where ferns and bushes lean

O'er sparkling streamlets, rimmed with many a reed,
And hung with brilliant golden jewel-weed.
Midst feathery spikes of meadow-sweet you speed.

Your brooding mate rocks gently to and fro,
And listens, while the summer breezes blow,
To your glad "Witch-i-teé-o ! Witchd-teé-o!"



*The Maryland Yellow-Throat

While May bedecks the naked trees
With tassels and embroideries,
And many blue-eyed violets beam
Along the edges of the stream,
I hear a voice that seems to say,
Now near at hand, now far away,

An incantation so serene,
So innocent, befits the scene:
There's magic in that small bird's note--
See, there he flits-the Yellow-throat;
A living sunbeam, tipped with wings,
A spark of light that shines and sings

                                   Henry van Dyke

*NOTE.--Reprinted by permission of
Charles Scribners' Sons.

*The Red-Eyed Vireo

Do you hear me? Don't you know
I'm the Red-eyed Vireo?
After lovely blossoming May
Entices me, the livelong day--
Even when the August noon
Silences the bards of June--
My incessant voice is heard,
Till I'm called "The Preacher-bird."

I've a gray head, eyebrows light,
A green robe over vestments white.
From roadside pulpits, forest aisles,
I preach against all worldly wiles.
Do you hear me? Don't you know
To forest-temples you must go?
You will love them; there the voice
Of our God bids you rejoice.

Do you hear it? Will you heed it?
Every human soul doth need it.



*NOTE.--Wilson Flagg's description of the Red-eye exactly reflects the character of the bird and its song: "The Preacher is more generally known by his note, because he is incessant in his song.... His style of preaching is not declamation. Though constantly talking, he takes the part of a deliberative orator, with a pause between each sentence. 'You see it--you know it--do you hear me?--do you believe it?' All these strains are delivered with a rising inflection at the close, and with a pause, as if waiting for an answer."

From Chapman's "Birds of Eastern North America." (Used by permission of D. Appleton & Co. Copyright, 1903. )

The Wood Pewee

In old deserted orchards,
    A riot of neglect,
In solitudes of arching woods,
    By streamlets which reflect
Long overhanging branches
    With sunshine filtering through,
A plaintive, tender, wistful note
    May flutter down to you.
Perchance upon some leafless bough
    Near a woodland path, you'll see
A tiny bird of olive brown,
    The gentle wood pewee.

Such pathos in his long-drawn note,
    You feel impelled to wait
To comfort him; and if you call,
    He'll answer you. His mate
Sits on her lichen-covered nest,
    Most exquisite,--while near
He hovers, and he breathes to her,
    "Pe-wee! Pe-wee! Here!"
Now far away his voice is heard,
    From sadness never free;
As from an over-burdened heart
    He murmurs,



The Pewee

       I ...sat me down
   Beside the brook, irresolute,
   And watched a little bird in suit
Of sober olive, soft and brown,
   Perched in the maple branches, mute:
With greenish gold its vest was fringed,
Its tiny cap was ebon-tinged,
With ivory pale its wings were barred,
And its dark eyes were tender-starred.
"Dear bird," I said, "what is thy name?"
And thrice the mournful answer came,
   So faint and far, and yet so near,--
       "Pe-wee! pe-wee! peer!"

            John Townsend Trowbridge

The Kingbird

I'm a king, though my gold crown hides in black,
   And my robe is a sober gray;
But my fan-shaped train, with its band of white,
And my shining tunic, like ermine bright,
   Are truly a king's array.

I've the valiant heart of a mighty king
   Who knows neither failure nor fear;
When pillaging hawks attack my nest,
I fly at their eyes till they cease their quest;
    I am even the eagle's peer.

My little feathered friends I shield
   From the thieving crow and jay;
And when I approach a swarm of bees,
'Tis the lazy, useless drones I seize;
   I rule in a royal way.

I'll whisper a secret! Keep it safe!
   Though I fight with my great foes well,
When a tiny humming-bird hovers near by,
I spread my wings, and away I fly!
   Obey the king! Don't tell!



The Sandpiper

By a tiny pool or a silvery stream;
Beside the reed-rimmed shore
Of a crystal lake, or on a beach
Where crested billows roar,
We may watch a flock of gray-brown birds,
With breasts like snowy foam,
That alight and bow and bob and tip.
While over the sands we roam,
The fragrant, dank, salt-laden air
With their plaintive tones rings sweet;
As the surf rolls in, we hear them cry,
"Peet-weet! Wet-feet! Wet-feet!"



The Sandpiper

Across the narrow beach we flit,
One little sandpiper and I,
And fast I gather, bit by bit,
The scattered driftwood bleached and dry.
The wild waves reach their hands for it,
The wild wind raves, the tide runs high,
As up and down the beach we flit,
One little sandpiper and I.

Above our heads the sullen clouds
Scud black and swift across the sky;
Like silent ghosts in misty shrouds
Stand out the white lighthouses high.
Almost as far as eye can reach
I see the close-reefed vessels fly,
As fast we flit along the beach,
One little sandpiper and I.

I watch him as he skims along,
Uttering his sweet and mournful cry;
He starts not at my fitful song,
Or flash of fluttering drapery.
He has no thought of any wrong;
He scans me with a fearless eye:
Staunch friends are we, well tried and strong,
The little sandpiper and I.

Comrade, where wilt thou be to-night
When the loosed storm breaks furiously?
My driftwood-fire will burn so bright!
To what warm shelter canst thou fly?
I do not fear for thee, though wroth
The tempest rushes through the sky;
For are we not God's children both,
Thou, little sandpiper, and I?

                                          Celia Thaxter

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