Posted by: ktzefr | April 6, 2013

Birds and Poems

take flight — sometimes. 


“…the white heron


    over the swamp

       and the darkness,


 his yellow eyes

  and broad wings wearing

    the light of the world…


ah yes, I see him.

  He is exactly

    the poem

      I wanted to write.

~ Mary Oliver, “White Heron Rises Over Blackwater”


If I were a poet, I know a whole bunch of birds that would be “exactly the poem I wanted to write” — last spring’s new male cardinals that have turned fiery red over the winter, the hummingbirds that make the long trek south every fall and come back to my feeders in the spring, the tanagers and flycatchers and parrots I’ve seen in the islands and in that bird wonderland of Costa Rica.  And these…the snowy egrets that nest in the pecan trees in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico (see “36 Hours in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico” from today’s New York Times.

Snowy egrets; Photo:KFawcett

Snowy egrets; Photo:KFawcett

The egrets are pretty birds with not-so-pretty voices.  They sound mostly like ducks, but they can snort like a pig or “bark” like a pup. (Have a LISTEN.)  These birds are early risers, leaving their nests every morning for the mud flats near the lake outside of town to look for “food” amongst the tall weeds.  At night they return to the pecan trees to roost. This flock makes a lot of noise just moving about in the trees until they’re settled in for the night.  In the 19th century in the US they were hunted almost to extinction for their feathers.  Egret feathers were popular on hats.  Thank goodness this style went out of fashion.   It’s not unusual to spot these birds all along the east coast, foraging in a marsh or the weeds along a lake or river bank, but it’s rare to see more than two or three at one time.  In San Miguel, however, the pecan trees near Juarez Park look as if they have been decorated with snowy egrets.  They’re an amazing sight, each bird a poem. 

Check out these egret nesting and breeding grounds in Chiapas, Mexico.

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