From his gloved hand,

the falconer tries to train the goshawk.

This fierce raptor’s pale-eyed view of death

is graceful control and surrender. This duality

of taming the fierce and feral parts

of the bird, ourselves and the world.


British goshawk by Archibald Thorburn, 1915 (public domain)


Inspired by reading H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald – a book about much more than training a goshawk.


Hummingbird at the Fuchsia

You’re so much a New World bird!

Humming at audible high frequencies, your wings

allow you to hover, even fly backwards.

The highest metabolism of any homeothermic animal.

What Aztec warrior returned to my garden?


Huitzilopochtli, the principal Aztec in hummingbird headgear

Aztecs wore hummingbird talismans, sometimes made from parts of real hummingbirds, as emblems of energy and sexual power. Their sharp beaks were seen as instruments of weaponry, bloodletting, penetration, and intimacy. The Aztec god of war Huitzilopochtli is often depicted as a hummingbird. I find it odd, considering their delicacy, that it was believed that fallen warriors would return to earth as hummingbirds or butterflies.


A Round of Robins

is circling the backyard listening for worms.

Not hunting like a cauldron of hawks.

Or being an ominous murder of crows.

Not charming as a shimmer of hummingbirds.

Good citizens, just shopping in the neighborhood.


There is much poetry and humor in the English terms of venery (venery being an archaic word for hunting) that go back to the Late Middle Ages that we use as collective terms (such as herd and flock) for some animals. The birds seem to have especially interesting ones: a skein of geese flying, a banditry of chickadees, a paddling of ducks, a flamboyance of flamingos, an asylum of loons, a committee of vultures or a parliament of rooks.        see more

Day of the Wren

I imagine the birds are wrens perched

on wires like notes on music paper.

Their complex song, here simple and short.

A day to fly like the king

of birds high in the new-blue sky.

birds wire



Today, December 26, is known as Wren’s Day, Day of the Wren, or Hunt the Wren Day (Irish: Lá an Dreoilín). Celebrated on St. Stephen’s Day, the tradition consists of “hunting” a fake wren, putting it on top of a decorated pole and crowds of mummers or strawboys celebrate the wren (also pronounced as the wran) by dressing up in masks, straw suits and colorful motley clothing and, accompanied by traditional céilí music bands, parade through the towns and villages. These crowds are sometimes called wrenboys.