Tag Archives: David Sibley

The Bird That Hit the Window

I gave the bird some water in hopes it would recover.


Bird half conscious on the deck,

Hit a window.  Broke its neck?

No!  It moves and stands alone.

I take a photo with my phone,

Send it to my daughter Emily.

She’s the birder in the family.

Hi, sweetie, think it’s Sparrow?

“No, Mom, beak’s too narrow.”

Pipit has a narrow bill.

“But it has a slimmer build.”

I see brown spots on its neck.

“Cannot tell from your pic.”

Warbler, Finch, Nuthatch, Thrasher?

Junco, Creeper, Chat, Gnatcatcher?

So many bird names I could blurt,

But she must get back to work.

After many guesses offered glibly,

I go consult the book of Sibley.

Not one to fret about proper names for each plant and animal I see, I nonetheless find that it helps me pay attention to details when I use The Sibley Book of Birds or some other resource as I try to identify something.  Puzzling it out can be gratifying.  It also helps me develop new habits.  Novelist Harold Brodkey wrote in his memoir, “At one time I was interested in bird watching, and I noticed that when I saw a bird for the first time I couldn’t really see it, because I had no formal arrangement, no sense of pattern for it.  I couldn’t remember it clearly, either.  But once I identified the bird, the drawings in bird books and my own sense of order arranged the image and made it clearer to me, and I never forgot it.”

I was glad to discuss this bird with my daughter, even in the limited way of texting on a cell phone, so I could learn about it.  I was gladder still when it recovered enough to rustle its feathers and fly away.  I will remember the thrush and its brief visit.

Thrush song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9vHS6JdHog