Yes, suffering readers, it is time once again for a blog post in verse. And not just any verse, but the horrible, vile, lousy verse that I sometimes produce, verse so bad that it isn’t even worthy of being called poetry. It is just doggerel.
The one good thing about this post is that it is illustrated with images from recent twitches. If you’re curious about the circumstances of any of them feel free to click on the pictures, which will take you to the blog posts that describe the twitch.
Enjoy. And if your eyes or ears start bleeding from the doggerel just know that you’ve been warned…
A rare bird is reported, genuine, assured.
Your skin starts to itch. How can you be cured?
Grab your equipment and run to the car -
It’s time for a twitch, let’s hope it’s not far.
Whether a shorebird, a falcon, a sparrow,
You feel the need deep down in your marrow.
You must chase! You must go! You must see!
You must make haste in your quest for rarity.
A Barnacle Goose is almost always twitch-worthy.
Arrival. See the hordes of seekers.
Scopes all akimbo, your knees go weaker.
“Seen the bird?” The universal question.
“Five minutes ago. It flew off in that direction.”
Those words that twitchers most hate to hear!
Five minutes might as well be a year!
Too late is too late and that is a fact.
It’s horrible when a view of the bird is lacked.
Who wouldn’t twitch a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch east of the Mississippi?
So you wait. And you wait. And you wait. And you wait.
Long time birders start to pontificate
About that rare bird way back in aught-eight.
You missed that one too and you are starting to hate
Birds, birders, and birding. This damned waste of time!
You could toss out your bins and you would be just fine.
“Who needs this dumb hobby?!?!” you yell to the sky
And in so doing you see a speck up there, real high.
Your bins that you did not cast aside
Are ever-so-quickly brought to your eyes
Which quickly widen in shock and surprise.
“I have the bird!” you yell to the gals and the guys.
Huzzah! You’re the hero, you refound the bird!
And folks turn to smartphones to get out the word.
The view is enjoyed though you’d prefer more
But a tick beats a dip, that is for sure.
Painted Buntings had better inspire the twitcher in you.
The bird’s out of sight and folks start to leave.
You remain because a better look you hope to achieve.
Left alone you still search and you still seek
But you see neither a feather, a foot, nor a beak
Of your quarry. You’re about to give up.
Out of nowhere the bird appears. This time it lives up
To the field guide pictures ingrained in your brain.
And you feel quite the rush, like you’d snorted cocaine.
It poses, it preens, it stays in good light.
This bird is amazing! A total delight!
A full ten minutes you share with the bird.
A look so good that it borders absurd.
The Gray-hooded Gull that showed up at Coney Island set off a continent-wide twitch.
Finally the bird goes in the blink of an eye.
Five minutes later up rushes a guy,
“The bird, have you seen it? This is my fifth try!”
You can’t make yourself do it. You can’t give him the lie.
“Five minutes ago,” you say to the birder,
Whose gaze seems as if he contemplates murder.
“Check out this great picture,” you say cheerily.
His eyes go unfocused, he stares blearily.
“Good luck with the twitch,” you walk away,
“I’m sure the bird will be back today.”
You walk to your car and you start to head home
Leaving the birder behind, birdless, alone.
New York’s first (and only) Scott’s Oriole was an amazingly easy twitch.