Thursday, June 03, 2010

Catbirds of June

The Gray Catbird can be a very secretive species; their bewildering cacophony of whistles and notes emanating from dense thicket is sometimes the only way to know they're present. But other times they can be among the most gregarious of birds along the trail, perched on an open branch seemingly singing the entire day away. Above is a recently digiscoped portrait of a catbird in a splendid pose. Yeah, they may be common, "as common as the grass," as Mary Oliver said, but we both contend they're an adorable bird to behold, worthy of our respect, praise, and admiration as any.

He begins early, and makes up his song as he goes.
He does not enter a house at night, or when it rains.
He is not afraid of the wind, though he is cautious.
He is neither the rare plover or the brilliant bunting,
but as common as the grass.

His black cap gives him a jaunty look, for which
we humans have learned to tilt our caps, in envy.
When he is not singing, he is listening.
Neither have I ever seen him with his eyes closed.

Though he may be looking at nothing more than a cloud
it brings to his mind several dozen new remarks.
From one branch to another, or across the path,
he dazzles with flight.

Selected excerpts from Mary Oliver's poem, Catbird

Gray Catbird © 2010 Mike McDowell

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