Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Even on Paper, Birds Can Lift the Spirit
July 09, 2016
By Steve Grinley

     On this summer weekend, it is a good time to kick back and relax with a good book. The greenheads are taking over Plum Island and other area marshes, and there is not a lot happening in the birding world right now. But a lot has been written in praise of birds and bird watching, so now might be a good time to again share with you some of my favorite quotes by persons famous, and by some not so famous, that I first shared with you eighteen years ago:

     ” …the first written verse in the English language was in praise of a beloved bird.”, John Kiernan

     “On the surface, birders find watching a wholesome pastime which gets them out into the fresh air, alerts them to stimulating sights and sounds, provides the fun of being both competitive and companionable. On a deeper level, it becomes a particularly intense personal experience, conscious or subliminal –the astonished awareness that comes in some unguarded moment when the watcher is left oddly vulnerable to feelings that only nature can provoke.”, Joseph Kastner

     “It go to Nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in tune once more.”, John Burroughs

     “You must not know too much, or be too precise or scientific about birds and trees and flowers. A certain free margin…helps your enjoyment of these things.”, Walt Whitman

     “Nature is not a competition. It doesn’t really matter , when you go out, if you don’t identify anything. What matters is the feeling in the heart.”, Richard Adams

     “Birds are to see, to hear, to store in memory.” , Allan D. Cruickshank

     “In order to see birds, it is necessary to become part of the silence.”, Robert Lynd

     “For most bird-watchers the coming of the warblers has the same effect as catnip on a cat.”, Arline Thomas

     “Everything about a hummingbird is a superlative.”, Tom Colazo

     “A bird thinks nothing of its flying or it would fall.”, Leslie Sahler, American Writer

     “Even when the bird walks, one feels that it has wings.”, Antoine Marie Lemiere

     “…we judge bird song not by its musical quality nor even by its creativeness, but by its effect on the human spirit.”, Len Eiserer

     “One can never be lonely in a room with a fifty-pound sack of sunflower seed. There it sits, large and comforting — a presence.”, Josephine Johnson

     “The bluebird carries the sky on his back.”, Henry David Thoreau

     “Nature is always hinting at us. It hints and hints over and over again. And suddenly we take the hint.”, Robert Frost

     “We do not need this little bird as much as we need the qualities required to spare its life.”, Deirdre Platt (age 16)

     “In a world that seems so very puzzling is it any wonder birds have such an appeal? Birds are, perhaps, the most eloquent expression of reality.”, Roger Tory Peterson

     “Crawl and stall, creep and beep, will I ever get home to sleep.
Up to the sky a look above, watching alone the birds I love.
What are those shapes so full of grace, beautiful and so out of place.
Three lovely herons, just doing their errands.”, An Ode to Herons by Joe Paluzzi, birder (stuck in Boston traffic)

     And when I can’t find that bird that someone else just saw, I am always mindful of the words of the late Ludlow Griscom, “Birds have wings!

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
Celebrating 2
4 years of service to the birding community! 
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