Love birds

Shorebirds share love around:

American avocets adopt a duckling in San Francisco Bay; it learns to feed by sweeping its beak from side to side, like they do.


Photo Jarred Barr

See conversation between shorebird scientists who recorded the event and friends at

Love birds of another kind:


Romance, who loves to nod and sing,

With drowsy head and folded wing,

Among the green leaves as they shake

Far down within some shadowy lake,

To me a painted paroquet

Hath been—a most familiar bird—

Taught me my alphabet to say—

To lisp my very earliest word

While in the wild wood I did lie,

A child—with a most knowing eye.

Of late, eternal Condor years

So shake the very Heaven on high

With tumult as they thunder by,

I have no time for idle cares

Through gazing on the unquiet sky.

And when an hour with calmer wings

Its down upon my spirit flings—

That little time with lyre and rhyme

To while away—forbidden things!

My heart would feel to be a crime

Unless it trembled with the strings.

 by Edgar Allen Poe

Tugging at the heartstrings:


Bird Stitchers by Mirranda Burton 2010; linocut inks on paper; from the collection of Nillumbik Shire Council


Words on the wing

How poets write about birds


Image and info at

Why poets write about birds

‘What is that draws poets to birds? And why have so many turned to them at critical points in their own writing? The collective nouns we all remember from childhood speak of language’s innate fascination with all things avian: a murder of crows, a murmuration of starlings, a parliament of fowls. And it’s no coincidence we afford them the most poetic collective nouns: right from the birth of literature birds have been present…’

Read Adam O’Riordan’s article at


Portrait of Keats listening to the nightingale by Joseph Severn, c.1845, image at

A murmuration of starlings