“I dig old books.” ™
Quotations about Birds
And from Humming-Bird to Eagle, the daily existence of every bird is a remote and bewitching mystery. ~Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "The Life of Birds," Out-door Papers, 1868
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "The Eagle"
There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before. ~Robert Lynd, The Blue Lion and Other Essays
Grass commence a-comin'
Thoo de thawin' groun',
Evah bird dat whistles
Keepin' noise erroun';
Cain't sleep in de mo'nin',
Case befo' it 's light
Bluebird an' de robin,
Done begun to fight.
~Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906), "Spring Fever"
"Hear! hear!" screamed the jay from a neighboring tree, where I had heard a tittering for some time, "winter has a concentrated and nutty kernel, if you know where to look for it." ~Henry David Thoreau, 28 November 1858 journal entry
The clouds are my family.
When you cannot find me,
it is because my sisters
and brothers have called me.
We are singing circles of prayers
about the earth...
~James McGrath (b.1928), "Bird," written in the 1970s, published in Dreaming Invisible Voices, 2009 [My favorite poem in the entire book is "Cicada" — but you'll have to read it yourself.
The bluejays are by far the fanciest fliers in the woods of Waldeck, working both wings anywhichway like an agile swimmer. ~David J. Beard (1947–2016), tweet, 2007 December 13th
I heard the sweet voice of a robin,
High up in the maple tree,
Joyously, singing his happy song
To his feathered mate, in glee!...
If we could be like this tiny bird,
Just living from day to day,
Holding no bitterness in our hearts
For those we meet on our way...
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "Heaven on Earth" (1940s)
When nature made the blue-bird she wished to propitiate both the sky and the earth, so she gave him the color of the one on his back and the hue of the other on his breast. ~John Burroughs
Road Runner, I am curious,
You've got me wondering why
You're always in a foot race,
I've never seen you fly.
You run along the yucca ridge,
And across the desert floor,
You run and keep on running,
And then you run some more...
~Harry Golden, "The Road Runner and I," in Arizona Highways, September 1971
My music breathes of art; — hers is the warble
Borne up to heaven, in the morning's blue calms.
~Florence Percy (Elizabeth Anne Chase Akers Allen, 1832–1911), "Two," Forest Buds, from the Woods of Maine, 1855
We like to praise birds for flying. But how much of it is actually flying, and how much of it is just sort of coasting from the previous flap? ~Jack Handey, Deeper Thoughts: All New, All Crispy
A wonderful bird is the pelican
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week,
But I'm damned if I see how the helican.
~Dixon Lanier Merritt
The blackbird and the thrush, indeed, sing the passion and beauty of their love long after the sunset has gilded the evening sky until the lacy trees stand motionless against the pale green spaces of Heaven, and a honey-coloured moon floats from the Eastern horizon. Then at last there is a hush, till the moonlight wakes the nightingales, and their music, unearthly and strangely sweet, troubles the night with beauty. ~Dallas Kenmare Browne Kelsey (c.1905–1970), "The Music of Nature," 1931
Welcome, welcome, little stranger,
Fear no harm, and fear no danger;
We are glad to see you here,
For you sing "Sweet Spring is near."
~Louisa May Alcott, "To The First Robin," 1840
The crow in his purity I believe is seen and heard only in the North. Before you reach the Potomac there is an infusion of a weaker element, the fish-crow, whose helpless feminine call contrasts strongly with the hearty masculine caw of the original Simon. ~John Burroughs, "Winter Sunshine"
Hark, love, while through this wood we walk,
Beneath melodious trees,
How wrens with redbreasts ever talk
What tuneful words they please...
No graybeard linguist, love, could vie
With our large learning, then!
You'd speak to me in Redbreast; I
Would answer you in Wren!
~Edgar Fawcett, "Bird-Language," Songs of Doubt and Dream, 1891
A flock of geese leave their lake and take wing, turning to poems in the sky. ~Dr. SunWolf, professorsunwolf.com
Happier of happy though I be, like them
I cannot take possession of the sky,
Mount with a thoughtless impulse and wheel there
One of a mighty multitude, whose way
And motion is a harmony and dance
Autumn birds speak cheerful poetry from their berry-stained beaks. ~Terri Guillemets
But there in your stony and windswept garden
a blackbird is confirming the grip of the land.
You, you, he murmurs, dark purple in his voice.
~Anne Stevenson, "North Sea Off Carnoustie"
People who say that an anorexic "eats like a bird" have clearly had no experience with bluejays. ~David J. Beard (1947–2016), tweet, 2008 February 16th
Birds of a feather flock together and crap on your car. ~Author unknown
[T]hese flowers, so fragrant, grew
And the birds and bees sipped sweet nectar
From the sparkling, morning dew.
God has blessed all beauties of Nature;
He's set His approval and seal
On all of His small, winged messengers
That fly through the air with such zeal.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "Honeysuckle" (1940s)
There are joys which long to be ours. God sends ten thousands truths, which come about us like birds seeking inlet; but we are shut up to them, and so they bring us nothing, but sit and sing awhile upon the roof, and then fly away. ~Henry Ward Beecher
The little owls call to each other with tremulous, quavering voices throughout the livelong night, as they sit in the creaking trees. ~Theodore Roosevelt
Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn't people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them? ~Rose F. Kennedy
A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. ~Chinese Proverb