Before moving to the peninsula I had a yard and garden that attracted butterflies and birds. In spring mockingbirds and crows sparred over nest space and herons perched on the back fence poised to raid the neighbor’s carp pond. Always, there was a yard full of finches and sparrows. Now, I watch seagulls, sandpipers and pelicans from my porch, and it is wonderful. But, occasionally, I feel nostalgic for the common yard bird and the exotic seasonal migrant. Here is a poem, “The Hooded Oriole,” by Erle Kelly, a poet wise enough to name and praise the visitors to his garden.
In late June the Hooded Oriole flies in
with his orange-yellow head and chest
his black-vested throat,
to perch on a rough brown branch
of the pear tree and look down for a meal.
Never in a flock,
he flutters, a palette of color,
among the drab locals. The crows,
chatter against the intruder,
but he mixes well with the social sparrows
hunting for seeds, bugs and grubs.
His visit only lasts a few days
before his built-in clock
pulls him to the north
to breeding grounds along the west coast.
Morning glories and nasturtiums
recapture color in the garden.