Sunday, July 6, 2014

Encouraging Summer Reading - Poetry for the Birds

With a sigh of relief we watched the first baby dove of the season...

...leave the nest outside of D's window.  The first nest of the summer last year ended in tragedy with one dud egg, and one hatchling being taken by crows.  After that, there was a successful brood of two, who with some help from our family of human scare crows, made it to adulthood.  Those two doves continued to roost in the tree for quite a while after they left the nest, being fed by their parents on the branches, and finally making their way to our backyard feeder.

We were happy, but nervous when we saw a new nesting pair of doves arrive at the nest this summer.  They laid two eggs.  One hatched, one did not.  After weeks of watching, shooing away crows, and magpies, worrying about hawks, and realizing there wasn't really much we could do for our dove family, other than adore, enjoy, and try not to become too attached, we were very happy to see the baby leaving the nest.

This year's fledgeling only stayed in the tree for a day after leaving the nest.  He returned to the branches, cooing softly, for the first few nights, and then he was gone.

The last day our friend was in the nest, D (age 11) sensing the departure time was nearing, spent the entire day by his window.  The day after the dove disappeared from sight (we continue to hear the family calling to each other from trees and rooftops around the neighborhood, even now), three fledgeling robins showed up to hunt for worms in our backyard.

D was so happy to see the robins, and so relieved, but sad to see the dove take flight.  He talked non-stop for days about the birds, waxing quite poetic about the life and death struggle they face.

That's when I realized I was missing a golden opportunity to introduce D, and the younger children (ages 7 and 9) to the beauty of poetry.  I imagined there had to be at least a few children's  poetry books for bird lovers.  I imagined wrong.  There aren't a few, there are hundreds, from the classical "greats" to modern unknowns.  In the end, I settled for three our library had on their shelves.

The Cuckoo's Haiku, and Other Birding Poems by Michael J. Rosen, is filled as the name suggests, with bird themed haiku's, divided by the four seasons.  Around Stan Fellows' water color illustrations are frilly cursive facts about each bird, and there are more "notes for birdwatchers and haiku lovers" at the back of the book.

Eileen Spinelli's Feathers, Poems About Birds contains short, simple, rhyming poems about birds from all over the world, and also has "some feathery facts" at the back.

Jane Yolen's Bird Watch, A Book of Poetry, my favorite of the three, not only has bird facts at the back, but slightly longer, non-rhyming, poems about many of the birds familiar to us, and even one about what makes the ugly baby birds so beautiful.

Excerpts from the "Nestling"
...Nestlings are
but ugly bits
of feathered clay...

...all beak and bite,
and squawk...

...But today
I found a nest with
and they were
because they were mine.
 - JaneYolen.


Phyllis said...

I will have to check these books out.

MaryAnne said...

I love that Robin poem!

claireshomeeducation said...

Thanks for the recommendations - I'm always on the look out for books related to nature to add to our library (really, I need no encouragement!)

Ticia said...

I should pick these up for my poetry loving daughter.

Barb @ A Life in Balance said...

Those books sound wonderful! I love Jane Yolen's books; I used some of them when I was homeschooling my oldest.

Bethany said...

We've watche nests for days here too. It is always sad for them to not make it, but great to watch them grow! We will have to take a peek at those books you've found.

Kristin said...

We're studying birds in science next year and I'm going to check out some of these bird poems books from the library to go along with it!