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Birding at Vischer Ferry Preserve
by Marion Menna
Standing in the wind on Whipple Bridge,
old rusty iron jigsaw, deconstructed
then reconstructed here on mammoth
blocks of New York state bedrock,
we focus on spearheads of yellow
iris rising on strong stalks out of the mud
of the canal and shallow ponds.
Phoebe, nesting in the puckerbrush,
calls out her name fee bee, fee bee.
Dandelion seeds, phragmites fluff,
cottonwood seedfluff, like snowflakes,
float everywhere in the cold air,
amid the calls and whistles of chickadee,
red-winged blackbird, cardinal, catbird.
Our leader raises his finger, pointing
somewhere beyond the bridge, high
in the far trees across the green marsh,
a sound he hears but we can not,
fitz-bew, a sneezy challenge, again,
fitz-bew, and we hear it distinctly.
“Willow fly-catcher,” he said “Got it?”
On a page in his trusty Peterson’s
he points it out to us, one of five others,
all quite alike, the family flycatcher,
Alder buzzes fee-bee-o, Acadian rasps peet-sa,
Least repeats che-bek,che-bek, and Yellow-
bellied says chu-wee.. He imitates them well,
then whistles up an amorous Baltimore Oriole.