For the Birds Radio Program: Poem by John Wilson

Original Air Date: Jan. 22, 2009

Laura reads a poem by John Wilson, “Birders Are a Peculiar Lot.”

Duration: 4′12″


Last week I came across a cool poem on the Oklahoma birding listserv. John Wilson, the author, gave me permission to read it on the air. It’s titled, Birders Are a Peculiar Lot.

Birders are a peculiar lot, With that compulsion they have got To peer through binoculars or scope At feathered creatures in the hope

That they will see a bird they’ve missed Which they can add to their life list. When you tease them, they will get uptight And say they’re not compulsive—yeah, right!

They go out in all kinds of weather To view these creatures of the feather, To scope a tree or field or shore To try to add just one bird more.

The Society of Audubon Arrives somewhere before the dawn, And like early birds that get the worm, A new bird they hope to confirm.

They’ll take a trip at their insistence, And drive a car for quite a distance To see a bird that is quite rare Which they have heard reports of there.

While vacationing on islands grand, They’ll want to get their bodies tanned, But while sunbathing on the sand, They’ll have binoculars in hand.

Birders have a bird field guide Which is always with them at their side, Which helps them to identify A bird that’s perched or on the fly.

When birders go on birding jaunts, The car that’s following them wants To keep its distance, for you see, They will be stopping frequently.

Off the road, they soon will swerve, For their compulsion, they must serve, To do what birders all must do— Identify the bird that flew.

Birders travel far and wide So species can be verified And added to somebody’s list. With watching birds, that is the gist.

Birders are a curious sort, And if their daily list comes up one short, They’ll drive back roads on darkest nights To spot an owl in their headlights.

Endangered species, they pursue, Defending them in all they do. Compassion in them never ends For all of their fine-feathered friends.

Birders always are on guard To scan their very own back yard To see what birds therein exist— Yes, they even have a yard birds list!

Birders have their little quirks In discovering whatever works To find a species that is rare. They’re very good at this, I swear!

Birders may seem kind of nerdy As they stalk a certain kind of birdie, But in one way, they’re all alike— They know a bluebird from a shrike.

Birders grow their lists with pride, And they know the pages of their guide, But what flusters them most every day Is to miss that bird that flew away.

Birding is a competition, For birders feel they’re on a mission, As if there is a fancy prize For the birder with the sharpest eyes.

Birders come in many types, But they all can tell woodcocks from snipes, And you must provide some proof to see If you ever question their I.D.

If you are not a birder and This sport, you do not understand, Then you can see a bird fly by And not feel the urge to identify.

As birders go about their jobs, To some, they may appear as snobs With noses stuck up in the air, But they are simply viewing birds up there.

Yes, birders are a peculiar lot, With the eccentricities that they’ve got, But I think by this time even you Have figured out that I’m one, too.

John Wilson