Yes, it is time once again for the bad rhymes and horrific meter of a birding adventure described in verse. To set the stage I will say that Charlie flew in last Friday night and had to be back to his hotel to get ready to fly back to England by mid-afternoon on Saturday. This gave him an opportunity to do some birding on Saturday and Mike and I really wanted to help him get a bunch of good birds so we enlisted a couple of other folks to help us out…

‘Twas quarter to seven on a cool morning
When I met up with Charlie with scarcely a warning.
I had expected to see him hop off the train
But he’d arrived early (he must be insane).

We walked out from the subway and right past my place
On the start of our full-day big birding race.
We were headed for bird-full Forest Park
Though it was just barely no longer dark!

We got to the edge of natural environs
Disturbed momentarily by police sirens
Which we ignored as we got out our bins
(As important to birders as fish’s tailfins).

We hoped to find a Sparrow, Chipping
But wound up momentarily dipping
And made up for the lack of the sparrow
With a Hermit Thrush along a path narrow.

Hermit Thrush in Forest Park, Queens, NY

The thrush was Charlie’s first of the year
And put us both into quite a good cheer
Before we even reached our first destination,
The Water Hole, such a birdy location.

Once there we managed to hear but not see
A bird singing out loud “Drink your tea!”
Of course you know I refer to Towhee,
Eastern, frustrating Charlie and me.

But then arrived our savior from Queens
The indomitable birder, her name it is Jean.
She is the one who keeps the birds so well fed
(I’ve heard she lets chickadees ride on her head).

No, that last part was strictly untrue
Please Jean, for defamation don’t sue!
She brought out the food and the birds they went crazy
While Charlie and I watched, standing there lazy.

The towhee came out of the bushes it hid in
And White-breasted Nuthatches appeared unbidden.
Both were new birds for Charlie’s Big Year
But no more new birds for him would appear.

Well that’s not quite exact, that is not quite true
Charlie spotted a Golden-crowned Kinglet too.
You’ll forgive me I’m sure for this slight mistake
They’re such small birds for goodness sake!

So we decided to take up Jean’s kind offer
Which she had so graciously proffered
Of a ride over to Park, Alley Pond
Where birds would appear like Potter was waving a wand

Too bad for us that Voldemort’s minions
Made traffic stop like a bird’s wings pinioned.
We moved so slow we were quite dismayed
At the infernal, interminable traffic delay!

When we finally made it to the park that we sought
Charlie and I were both quite distraught.
For we were due to meet Patrick and Mike
And we knew for sure that they would not like

To wait long for us at Jamaica Bay.
So we had to cut short our Alley Pond stay.
But before we got moving we looked for some birds
While carefully stepping over many dog turds.

And we managed to find a magnificent flock
Of Rusty Blackbirds that made the gridlock
We had endured not seem so bad
But I’ll tell you, we were mighty glad

To hear back from Mike on his way
To our meeting spot at Jamaica Bay.
He agreed to come and get us for sure.
And he did after an unintentional tour

Of the streets of Queens that can be confusing
And might make you feel that you’ve been out boozing.
So we said our good-byes to Jean reluctantly
For she had been such friendly company.

But we were on a mission to see
More birds and Patrick, more good company
(And if you’d like to see his tale of our trip
Just head over to his blog and come back in a zip).

When we arrived Patrick had already spotted
A sparrow that Charlie to see had plotted.
Yes, and there it was on the ground
A Chipping Sparrow with juncos hanging around.

With that good start we were off on the trail
As we swore to each other we would not flag nor fail.
And we didn’t. We just walked right along
Reveling in many wild birds’ songs.

Snow Geese at Jamaica Bay

For Charlie new birds there were to educe
Like oystercatcher, Swamp Sparrow and even Snow Goose.
It was quite a rush; it was quite a thrill
To see so many birds that we had our fill.

Again I have lied and I’m sorry again.
We will only get our fill of birds when
We’ve seen them all and that won’t be soon,
Probably after we’ve colonized the moon.

But where was I? Oh yes, on the trail
Where we did not flag and we did not fail.
The birding was decent the birding was nice.
But rare sparrows at Big Egg Marsh! Well, we were enticed.

We hoped to find Sparrows, Saltmarsh and Seaside
Both birds Charlie had never seen stateside
Or anywhere else as a matter of fact.
Our plan it was great but Ammodramus sparrows we lacked.

This might have been because it was low tide
Or because the sparrows had lots of marsh in which to hide.
I will say that the effort put in
To end unrewarded was practically a sin!

Charlie searching for a Saltmarsh Sparrow

For Charlie and I missing the sparrows hurt twice
Because as we searched through the marsh Patrick found a bird nice
And showed it to Mike who’d stayed back on shore.
They saw a Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, a bird I adore.

So it was back to the car with heavy hearts and feet
And off to the next place we hoped sparrows to meet,
The awkwardly named Marine Nature Study Area
For a second edition of of rare-sparrow hysteria!

I’m sad to say that we again missed our target sparrows
Which hurt down to our bones’ marrows.
Yes, trust me, I know that no “s” is required
To pluralize marrow, forgive me, I’m tired.

And I haven’t even mentioned the birds we did see
Like Greater Yellowlegs and Ibis, Glossy.
To say nothing of an American Kestrel and Egret, Snowy.
But the lack of the sparrows made the trip quite melancholy.

We cheered up with some pizza from a local spot
And talked of past adventures and other whatnot.
Then we all of us went our separate ways
With plans to get together again, someday.

But holy cow! I’ve forgotten the owls!
And that would be a crime most foul!
The best sight of the day, at a location unnamed
To protect these birds’ nest (you really can’t blame

Me for keeping a secret I’ve sworn not to share).
We had gazed at the most adorable pair
Of young Great Horned Owls, up in a tree.
These were certainly great birds to see!

two nestling Great Horned Owls

photo by Charlie

So we sent Charlie home with some good birds on his list
Though he will probably linger over the ones that we missed.
A day full of birding, it really was grand
Even though it didn’t go as we’d planned.

And now I am done, I hope I’ve done well
If you’d care to comment that would be swell.
That is, if your eyes aren’t starting to bleed
From reading this doggerel, rough treatment indeed!

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.