Chickadees swoop and dart to the feeder,

flit back and forth with beakfuls

of sunflower seeds, oiled and striped.

Cardinals scoop at the safflower.

White-crowned sparrows peck at kernels and hearts.

Finches purple and gold go for millet,

white or red makes no difference.

Even the ground-feeding juncos

rise to the occasion.

Jays park their bulk on tray and perch

gulping hulled peanuts, shouldering the smaller birds aside

except for the white-breasted nuthatch

snatching the blacker grains,

its grip and cling, woodpecker-like.


We make sure to keep the feeder full

so the birds will pay us with visits,

graceful in their flight patterns,

dip and lift, deft in their arcs,

streaking the air with colour,

never going hungry,

never disappointing the admiring gaze

and the confident patience

of the one who waits and watches.

New to The New Criterion?

Subscribe for one year to receive ten print issues, and gain immediate access to our online archive spanning more than four decades of art and cultural criticism.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 33 Number 7, on page 25
Copyright © 2023 The New Criterion |