“Why Read a Book?”

Two of my pleasures, in one poem: reading and looking at birds. Oh man. Not sure I’d always choose birds over books, but on these beautiful fall days, when the sun is warm and the birds are migrating (and especially when I have the chance to get outside and band them), birds definitely win out. Though I do love to lose myself in the words of others, it’s hard to ignore the amazing poetry flying overhead and all around.

Teton Science School bird banding Jackson Wyoming

Ruby-crowned Kinglet, caught on the Kelly Campus of the Teton Science School, in Grand Teton National Park. June 2014.


Why read a book when there are birds

Printing clear and breezy words

Upon the cloud’s white pages? When

A busy robin and a wren

Are syllables of ecstasy!

A line of swallows on a tree,

Or wire, is a sentence, long

And sweeping. A flying flock’s a strong

Paragraph, while in the air

Is quilled elaborately and rare

Illumined manuscript in gold

And green. And say, what book can hold

More fascination and delight

Than birds in migratory flight?

— Collette M. Burns


bird banding Teton Science School, Jackson Wyoming

Yellow Warbler. Caught at one of the Teton Science School bird banding stations in Jackson, Wyoming. June 2014.

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