Springtime is upon us. 
The birds celebrate her return with festive song, 
and murmuring streams are 
softly caressed by the breezes. 
Thunderstorms, those heralds of Spring, roar, 
casting their dark mantle over heaven, 
Then they die away to silence, 
and the birds take up their charming songs once more. 

from hummingbird-height

I’d been weaving webs together
respinning silk in small circles
packing cottonwood down 
into a soft round cup
for most of the morning before they came:
noisy, boisterous, cracking the calm -
the who-mens - two small ones
wearing caps with their own broad bills

I’d no time to watch their wrestling
zipped in and out
with light loads
darning my knit nest
with a needle of beak
beyond the reach of their
wooden swords and endless tussle

but, it couldn’t be helped -
my emerald sheen flashed too bright
through fir branch -
they knew me at once -
their faces grew holes
and sucked air in

from the ground

despite their eager pointing
I couldn’t see til liftoff
when her body uncoupled from tree,
became bird
buzzed across blue like broken green glass

my eyes, distracted by her spark,
had to search the limbs again
finally found the slumped-open bowl
she’d been busily turning
on a flimsy branch right over sidewalk
likely a lesson in loss

days later we held a phone high
when she was off at the feeder
found a single white egg
a Jordan almond in a jeweler’s plush box
then two, long axes aligned, 
neat as a pin

one day she landed on the lip
tiny feet tottering on the nest’s edge
and we knew another soul had arrived

but it wasn’t like we thought:
big bruise-purple bumps
on translucent pink skin
no down at all
no elegance about it
it was the naked need of the just-arrived
helpless and vulnerable
but still asking for love

how could this small alien thing
so fragile and awkward
survive in a world of nos?
but she did.  as did her twin - 
two small, improbable yeses
weathering even the hardest hail

oh, the anticipation 
as the oldest beat her wings in the nest
building strength
trying freedom
ready  to launch
into a lifetime of thousand-mile journeys
almost weightless with hope

accompanying slideshow of photography by Boulder County Audubon Society Teen Naturalists

in the bristling wind
two hawks hover
like they’ve stopped time
letting the insistent air 
hold them still

when they’re ready
they tip their wings
the slightest angle
and veer off wildly
in their own calculated way

they do this over and over
side by side
giving into incessant air
then seizing control
with surprising ease
playing with power
turning struggle to joy

I’m yielding, too -
struck still while others wend round 
as I crane my neck to follow their flight
learning how to give over 
to unstoppable forces
relax into opposition
then seamlessly steer fate 

to be like them, finding freedom 
whatever the wind’s whims


Because birds

Because life

Because songs

Because they make me sing

Because they make me get up early

Because the wide world is calling out

Because joy

Because whirling soaring joy

Because they plummet and dive into the darkest night

Because sorrow

Because with a turn into the sunshine all colors are created

Because feathers catch light and burst into colors

Because feathers catch the wind and are so light flying is easy even without a motor

Because hummingbirds wear scarlet bandanas

Because hummingbirds have everlasting energy

Because turkey vultures soar like an eagle and are our best garbage collectors even if they have the kind of looks only a mother could love

Because herons drip with plumes

Because herons are stone when in water and LBJ’s never stop moving

Because when the blue heron spreads its wings I think that it will soar to the moon

Because when the blue heron dips its beak into the water I imagine the fish below trying to escape the horrid beak

Because when the great heron spreads its majestic wings and flies with its beauty and grace I have to stop and watch the bird glide

Because larks sing with abandon

Because meadowlarks belt out their songs and mockingbirds snatch them away

Because meadowlarks evoke childhood magic

Because a tanager has a glow

Because of the ease of identifying tanagers and the challenge of sparrows

Because doves whistle with their wings and owls are silent death

Because nothing with a heart moves faster than a peregrine

Because even a drab flycatcher has a whole palette hidden

Because even a starling is robed in iridescence

Because peacocks watch with hundreds of eyes while on display themselves

Because the albatross isn’t just a weight - he’s a mile of wings meant to never land

Because of wood duck green and cinnamon teal mahogany

Because lazuli buntings own their own blue

Because mountain bluebirds are warm blocks of ice

Because swans float like white hearts

Because nightingales soar free

Because when the osprey captures the fish I have to stop and watch

Because when I see the great eagle building its nest I have to stop and hope that all the babies survive

Because they feed their babies trip after trip after trip

Because nests can be as big as a car

Because nests can be as delicate as a cotton-infused spiderweb

Because a nest is a place called home

Because a nest is where the family grows together

Because a nest is a place to jump off into the unknown and fly and then come back to rest

Because nests can be upside down and still give you a place to hide

Because their ancestors were the flying dinosaurs

Because they are the only creatures who can stay above the earth

Because their life is on the wing

Because birds

Just because

Skylark, have you anything to say to me, 
Won't you tell me where my love can be? 
Is there a meadow in the mist 
Where someone's waiting to be kissed?

Skylark, have you seen a valley green with spring 
Where my heart can go a-journeying 
Over the shadows and the rain to a blossom-covered lane?

And in your lonely flight haven't you heard the music of the night? 
Wonderful music, faint as a will-'o-the-wisp, crazy as a loon, 
Sad as a gypsy serenading the moon, oh

Skylark, I don't know if you can find these things, 
But my heart is riding on your wings 
So if you see them anywhere 
Won't you lead me there

birds won’t mind a wall
won’t stay put to sing in a single tongue

they’re gonna soar right up and over
leave your checkpoints unchecked
packing no papers at all

they’ve been navigating this old hemisphere
oh so much longer than you
flying north to endless light
south to winter sun
following food to feed their families

down on the ground
you can dig trenches
build barriers
draw your lines between
us and them

all these will be 
the slightest scratch marks
on the map unfolded below
their warm wings

they’re gonna keep filling the air
with brilliant tanager scarlet
and nueva canción song -
undeniable bits of undimmable sunshine
no matter how grey
you may paint the sky

Little bird on the tree you better fly
If you stay on that tree you're gonna die
Little bird of the forest say to me
Why happiness just can never be
Who put their poison in the dart
That hurts my soul and kills my heart
That made my whole life fall apart and breaks my heart
And haunts my dreams and breaks my heart

The forest I loved went up in flames
And now the fire has gone to rain
And now the rain has gone to stream
Where's my love, my long lost dream
The ashes flew away
And scattered far away
And where is my love, little bird didn't say

Little bird on the tree you better fly
Little bird of the sky you better fly
If you stay on that tree your gonna die
Little bird get away, take to the skies
Go find a love that never dies
Where is my love, my only soul
That used to laugh and sing along
That used to light up, cheer my life
That used to light up my poor heart
That used to light up all the dark

Where's my path, it was washed away
Where are my tracks, erased by rain
Where's my house, the river claimed
Where's my love, my soul refrained
My love has gone away
And flew and flew astray
And where is my love that the wind took away

Sudden bird came to rest but high it flew
Sudden bird fled the shot and winged the blue
Sudden bird of the forest say to me
Why happiness just can never be
Go ask the Lord, happens above
What ever happened to my love
What ever happened to my love
Go ask the saddest morning dove
What ever happened to my love

The bright morning light was burned by day
The day grew old and spent my day
The sun went down and twilight came
And sudden night was back again
The moon across the sky
Grew dim and hid away
Then it was so cold when the star brought the day

Little bird of the sky you better fly
Little bird of the sky you better fly
You fly, fly, fly, fly

snowy egret