Audubon Day

audubon bird copy s

my thoughts trip, whiffling
through rivers melting in air,
shunting the edges,
vagrant from ideas not
born of determinate lines

not conspecific
to glaucous vision, but fledged
in fire, the eye caught
in a jizz of mimetic
trills from a long-addled mind

It’s the birthday of John James Audubon, master bird artist.  To celebrate, I made a loose copy of one of the birds in his black billed magpie painting, and finally answered the day 17 prompt from NaPoWriMo to use 10 words from a specialized dictionary in my poem.  Killing two birds with one stone (so to speak), I also used this week’s words from The Secret Keeper.
(5) Words: | TRIP | FIRE | RIVER | EYE | MELT |

black billed magpie audubon s

It’s always a good day to celebrate birds!

The words from’s Find a Bird Dictionary:

whiffling: descending rapidly from a height once the decision to land has been made, involving fast side-slipping first one way and then the other.

shunting:  moving fitfully along a coastline instead of striking out over the sea

vagrant:  a bird which wanders to a particular area if its orientation is at fault or adverse winds drive it off course but in normal circumstances would not be found there at all

determinate:  a species in which the female usually produces a fixed number of eggs in the clutch

conspecific:  belonging to the same species.

glaucous:  greyish-blue

fledged:  a young bird which has just left the nest (‘fledged’)

jizz:  the overall impression which a bird gives an observer, enabling an experienced birdwatcher at least to suspect its identity, even if plumage details and other diagnostic features cannot be seen. Jizz consists of a combination of colour, size, shape and movement

mimetic:  mimicking sounds

addled:  failing to hatch

trills:  a rapid succession of similar notes

poetry month

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34 responses to “Audubon Day”

  1. Jodi says :

    I adore your version of this bird! Bright, loose, alive!

  2. merrildsmith says :

    Great job on painting and poem! I love these words–especially whiffling. I need to use some of these words. The birds in my yard and neighborhood have been very busy the last couple of days–singing whole operas, I think. 🙂

    • memadtwo says :

      It’s a great dictionary. I’m particularly fond of jizz myself. We have mostly sparrows nesting in the back, so they are certainly loud but definitely not operatic!

      • merrildsmith says :

        I wish I knew what type of bird was putting on the concert here last night. 🙂

      • memadtwo says :

        I’m not too good with specific bird songs. Robins, crows, cardinals, blue jays, seagulls…that’s about it. Cornell has bird calls you can listen to on its site though; I’ve referred to it before to try to figure out what I was hearing. And of course starlings imitate everyone else!

      • merrildsmith says :

        I’ve been going to the Cornell site, too. 🙂

  3. Laura (Createarteveryday) says :

    Crazy genius strikes again! You set always such high goals for yourself and you always manage to meet them! Way to go!

  4. Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash) says :

    This is awesome Kerfe!! Love everything about this post! Hehe…well done! That pop of green against the black on the tail of the bird is awesome…it’s glowing! Cool! 😍

  5. rivrvlogr says :

    Nice take on both poem and art. I’ve always enjoyed the pictures from Audubon’s folios. I recently read The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World (a biography), and the artwork he commissioned for the plant life in his books about his travels… reminded me of the artwork in Audubon’s folios (same era, more or less).

    • memadtwo says :

      There are so many naturalists from that era to study. The artwork is really stunning, and the lives fascinating. The world was newer then, at least in terms of knowledge about the natural world.

  6. Lynz Real Cooking says :

    Love this pretty version of the bird, very lovely!

  7. memadtwo says :

    Audubon would be proud. N.

  8. Susan Feniak says :

    Oh yes! Everyday is a good day to celebrate birds! Well done!

  9. Sunshine Jansen says :

    A new bird and several new words; happy day! And “not conspecific /
    to glaucous vision, but fledged / in fire…” are fantastic lines…

  10. Sharon Mann says :

    Wonderful bird, and thank you for the word definitions. Your words and pictures posts are always enjoyable.

  11. Teresa Robeson says :

    That’s a wonderful copy of the Audubon version! I’ve heard my son use some of those terms before but some were new to me!

    Everyone raves about Audubon but I recommend reading the biography of Alrxander Wilson, the father of American ornithology…Audubon’s art pales in comparison, according to their peers. 🙂

  12. Cathe says :

    What a wonderful post. Your bird is absolutely brilliant and your poem – perfection.

  13. Myriam (Myr's Bytes) says :

    Awesome painting and poem Kerfe :-)! And thanks for including the word definitions. There are a lot of black-billed magpies where I am and so many nests. I wonder if I will get to see little ones soon.

  14. Jennifer G. Knoblock says :

    Wonderful words! And I love how you fold them into the layers of your poem. Striking on the surface, with a thought-provoking finish.

  15. sheldonk2014 says :

    Thank you for your follow
    Looks like I’ll be………
    See you on the other side of creativity

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