‘Twas the middle of winter deep,
When all sane critters are fast asleep,
This Canuck sent invitations
For a snowy celebration.
“Join me for lunch!” the invite said.
“The drinks are free!” it further read.
And so they came, in ones and twos
- free drinks, of course, they can’t refuse.
First to arrive, from overseas,
A motley crew of Indianese.
Worn out, I think, from their long flight
Their first concern, to grab a bite.
Not far behind, the Long-eared Owl,
Who hates the crowds all cheek-to-jowl.
Arriving early to stand beside
the food display – and then to hide.
Coming from the Salton Sea,
This group arrived reluctantly.
After all, what would you choose -
Southern warmth or winter blues?
Our winter’s not all knocking knees,
Indeed some birds are more than pleased
To venture south to our “warm” clime
Where it’s much easier to dine.
That is unless the winter weather
Isn’t kind to birds afeathered.
Little birds yellow and brown,
Forced to eat upon the ground.
I’m not that cruel with my buffet
I lay it out in wide display.
The barbets ate their fruit with glee;
The toucanet, respectfully.
The mockingbird was less polite,
Demanding food with great delight.
“The suet’s out!” – loudly complained.
“I want more grapes! This party’s lame!”
The Eurasian Jay took all the nuts,
Hid them away and off he struts,
Thinking that he wasn’t seen
- a cocky bird he’s always been.
Mother Scops-owl brought her son
A big mistake – she had no fun.
The boy was such a hungry babe
She spent her time stuffing his gape.
The teenage wattlebirds that came,
Compared to him, were almost tame.
They weren’t as bad as I’d've thunk,
Too occupied with getting drunk.
Which wasn’t easy, don’t you know,
With all this ice and frozen snow.
The saucers from which birdies sipped,
Frozen sideways when they tipped.
Although we served some caviar
The Snowy Egret liked fish tartar.
Instead of eating from the table
The little pond edge seemed more stable.
The juncos left the table, too,
Its boring spread just wouldn’t do.
The garden’s snowman was much nicer,
The blossom crown such an enticer.
You might call them omnivores,
But Sandhill Cranes are somewhat more.
They took no interest in the frog legs,
Grain instead was what they all begged.
The fruit I’d put out, though quite thawed,
Offended all the bright macaws.
They glared at me and gave a shrug,
And started eating from the mud!
The herons all were quite aloof,
Turned around, took to the roof.
There they stood all hunched and grumpy,
No doubt ’cause the soup was lumpy.
The Lapland Longspur also chose
To eat alone; That’s how it goes -
You plan a lunch and make the food
And all the guests say, “No thanks, dude.”
The starlings had one thing in mind -
The berries blue, not hard to find:
With them I lined my garden wall,
But not what I had planned at all!
The cardinal drank far too much
Fermented fruit and so as such
Got confused and flew into
My living room; it’s such a zoo!
The drink had also gotten to
The roadrunner who ambled through
My house behind me as I went
To tidy up the cups I lent.
The gulls – all five – sat atop
The TV set and wouldn’t stop
Asking me to try to choose
Which was which and who was who.
At least the Ring-bills stayed outside
Calling out as they soared by.
The cry, of course, was to distract
As they dove and took my snack.
The Gambel’s Quail sat in the pots
On my deck that I had got
To plant some flowers for the spring
But he had plans for other things.
I shooed him out and then I found
Some suspect wood upon the ground.
This woodpecker with red cockades
Was on my house chipping away!
The meadowlark’s bright yellow breast
Stood out against the snow the best.
So I could tell that he was busy
Working the chicks into a tizzy.
And that’s when things got really wild
When in should march some birdy-styled
Football players, baseball guys -
I cut off their drinks when I got wise.
But it was too late, they’d had enough
To start a fight and make a fuss
With the birds from Rio Grande -
The Chachalaca took a stand!
“Out! Out!” I cried, “That’s it! I’m done!”
And tried to shoo them out the front
Without much luck, although I tried;
Just the egret did oblige.
To the rest the words I said
On deaf ears they fell instead.
The owlet just looked at me,
His golden eyes alive with glee.
The football guy picked up a book
I had left out – a risk I took -
On woodpeckers and owls here
- and heaved it at the owlet’s beer.
“He looked at me!” the guy exclaimed.
“He’s lucky that he wasn’t maimed!”
I put my head into my hands
And thought of far and distant lands.
And while I took my mental break
A group of parrots (my mistake -
Parrotlets) – the whole family -
Went and ate my garden seed.
The Echos hung from on the pot rack,
Banging pans until I walked back
And opened up the fridge’s door
So they could go and grab some more.
I gave up and went outside
Hoping for a better vibe.
“No such luck!” the Black Kites cried,
As they circled in the sky.
Sure enough, I looked around,
Red berries flung across the ground:
The turkeys had destroyed my sumacs,
Then ran off, leaving just snow tracks.
I thought sadly of the Murre
Who couldn’t make it (that’s for sure),
Whose calm is surely underrated;
It would have been appreciated.
I looked at all the chaos here,
The messy food and sticky beer,
And thought I’d fly to Tennessee
Where Rusty Blackbirds would calm me.
Or better yet, down to Belize
Where Black-and-Blues do much to please
The weary eyes of the winter-worn
Out on the shaded coffee farms.
It would be nice, but here I stay,
At least for just another day.
The mess to clean, stuff to repair -
And then, I’m sure, I’m headed there.
Up the stairs I head for now,
And into bed, with comfy down
To keep me warm while I await
For all this nonsense to abate.
I don’t proclaim to be the world’s best poet – but I hope folks enjoyed the party as much as I did planning it! (Cleaning up the mess once everyone’s gone home… now that’s another story.)
The cast, in order of appearance:
Madras Ramblings – Of legs, tails and beaks!
Owl box – First owl of 2009 – LEO!
Two birders to go – I love the smell of Snow Geese in the morning!
A DC Birding Blog – New at the feeders: Pine Siskins!
Behind the Bins – Siskin visit during an Ice Storm
The Hawk Owl’s Nest – Costa Rica Earthquake Impacts
Mary’s View – Northern Mockingbird Connection
Bird Snapping – Eurasian Jay caching acorn
Bird Ecology Study Group – Collared Scops Owl feeding fledgling
Ben Cruachan – A long time coming
Vickie Henderson Art – Funny Pine Siskins
The Birder’s Report – Snowy Egret Fishing the Sacramento Marshes
A Spattering – I built a snow-woman today
Rock Paper Lizard – Cranes eat grains.
TR Ryan** for 10,000 Birds – Licking Clay: the macaws of Tambopata, Peru
Wanderin’ Weeta – Heron Condos
Nature Photograph and Art – Lapland Longspur photo
Huckleberry Days – Kestrels, Starlings and Blueberries
Julie Zickefoose – Cardinal in the House
Wingbeat: The WINGS Birding Blog – The Boidfriend
Migrations – The Problem with Herring Gulls
Coyote Mercury – Watching Ring-billed Gulls in Central Texas
Aimophila Adventures – Suddenly…
Mike at 10,000 Birds – Stalking the Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Birder’s Lounge – Road Trip: Las Vegas, NV
Birdist – Bird-related Sports Uniform Designs: Part 2
Birding in New Jersey – Birding the Lower Rio Grande Valley! Texas Style.
It’s Just Me – Snowy Egret Obsession
A birding blog by Gunnar Engblom – Owl in Peru
Boreal Bird Blog – The Owl and the Woodpecker
Search and Serendipity – 2008: Untold stories
Nick Sly** for 10,000 Birds – Photo Essay – Green-rumped Parrotlets: from egg to adult
Charlie** on 10,000 Birds – The Puerto Rican Parrot
Charlie** on 10,000 Birds – Maruitius’s Echo Parakeet: to the brink and back
James Lidster – lineatus Black Kites from Japan
The Marvelous in Nature – Here and gone again
Great Auk – Or Greatest Auk? – Requiem for a Murre
Birdfreak.com – The Rusty Blackbird Hotspot Blitz
Coffee & Conservation – Know your coffee birds: Black-throated Blue Warbler
**Also check out all the other fabulous posts as part of Parrot Month on 10,000 Birds!