Galway Kinnell, the poet wrote a series of poems he calls “When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone.” Birds, and a pet snake, appear in many of them. In the seventh of the series he writes:
the least flycatcher witching up “che-bec!”
or the red-headed woodpecker clanging out his music
from a metal drainpipe, or a ruffed grouse drumming
“thrump thrump thrump thrump-thrump-
deep in the woods, all of them in time’s unfolding
trying to cry themselves into self-knowing -
one knows one is here to hear them into shining,
when one has lived a long time alone.
I’m not so sure I agree with his implication that the birds lack “self-knowing” but I won’t deny the beauty of the poem or the marvelous descriptions of the bird songs.
And speaking of bird songs, Enature has a fun test for anyone who wants to take it. You type in your zip code and five birds from your region will test your knowledge of their songs. It’s fun.