[36] For the Birds, Ron Singer

Now that airplanes have practically disappeared,
birds seem to be in the ascendancy.
Not just the usual suspects–sparrows,
pigeons, starlings, gulls, and the like–
(I live in a coastal city, you see)
but other species, which can be googled:
bitterns, mockingbirds (habitats creeping north),
and several kinds of jay, some not blue, but gray.

Identifying even common birds
can be tricky. Our pandemic-thinned park
(many of us having fled the city)
echoes with song, but you can’t really tell
full-throated robins from talented newbies.

Urban birds have made this park their arena.
At ground level, inches from the benches,
usurping our space, pigeons (mainly rock)
preen, puff, peck, bob and strut; song and white-throated
sparrows pester us when we try to eat,
hopping right up, getting in our face
–I guess you could call this a restaurant tax.

Above and beyond the terrestrial sphere,
smaller birds –sparrows, starlings, who-knows-what–
soar with the hawks, buzzing them, ganging up,
presumably for menacing chick-filled nests.

Since hawks, too, seem commoner than ever,
here is a hypothesis: the absence
(relative) of the dominant species
(us), and reduction of concomitant waste
—plastic, paper, particulate matter–
gives the birds room, but makes scavenging hard.

Perhaps, there’s a compensatory increase
in worms, bugs, and their ilk, which draws the birds
to the park, where they mingle with humans,
some in attendance just to watch them perform.

The boldness in birds may also be fueled
by the tidbits we feed them (squirrels, as well).
And with so many dogs, barking and yipping,
the once-peaceful park is sliding toward chaos.

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