A Cycle of Poems: Bird for Bird


Bird for Bird

Some Scottish species and their cousins in America


Scotland                                                    America

Tree-speeler                                             Brown Creeper

Spotted Flycatcher                                    Eastern Phoebe

Nuthatch                                                   White-breasted Nuthatch

Corbie                                                       American Raven

Green Woodpecker                                   Northern Flicker

Blue Tit                                                     Chickadee

Wren                                                         Carolina Wren

Tawny Owl                                                Barred Owl




Tree-speeler, hiding,

you curve round the trunk,

put the whole tree between us




                                                            Brown Creeper


                                                            Spiral up the tree —

                                                            stiff tail-feathers are your props,

                                                            your plumage, rough bark


                                                            see sooo sideeda sidio



Spotted Flycatcher


Flycatchers flick out

over the water,

returning to the same twig




                                                            Eastern Phoebe


                                                            On a bending bough,

                                                            Eastern Phoebe near her nest,

                                                            full of her birdhood







Nuthatch, noisy scold,

the nutjobber, mudstopper,

jar bird, woodcracker





                                                    White-breasted Nuthatch


                                                   White-breasted nuthatch

                                                   climbs head-first down the tree-trunk —

                                                   black go-faster stripe







Through the rowsty storm

flee strang, Corbie, hurl on,

turn tapsalteerie


kronk      pruk-pruk



                                                                  American Raven


                                                                  Hear the two ravens

                                                                  flying high, talking to us?

                                                            American voices




Green Woodpecker


The joyous yaffle,

the laughing green woodpecker

alights with the dawn






                                                                   Northern Flicker


                                                                  A flicker of hope,

                                                                  gold flag, yellow wing-linings

                                                                  startle from the tree


                                                                  flicka flicka



Blue Tit


Wee blue bonnet,

silver trill among leaves,

loves to party


siiih siiih, si-surrrrr





                                                          Flight undulates, tree to tree,

                                                          with high clear whistles

                                                          so like me


                                                         hey-sweetie! hey-sweetie!





Snow is on the ground:

wrens may be the only birds

singing in the wood


chur-r-r    stirrrrr-up



                                                      Carolina Wren


                                                       Tropical songsters,

                                                       she calls him and he calls her —

                                                       resonating wrens


                                                     tea-kettle tea-kettle tea-kettle tea-kettle



Tawny Owl


At dawn and dusk

here you are, right near me,

come to me


hoooouh…. ho, ho ho ho hoooouh



                                            Barred Owl


                                         Just a few night hours

                                         when cackling laughter startles,

                                         calls from the maples


                       who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks for-you-alllllll?

unpublished poem, © Valerie Gillies 2017, used by permission of the author

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Valerie Gillies

Valerie Gillies Downloads

1A Cycle of Poems Bird for Bird


2A Sapling Greyhound


3Bass Rock


4Clydesdale Clydesdale


5Cody Dancing


6Cool Cap


7Eagle Bone Whistle


8Fellow Passenger




10Frog Spring




12Gougane Beara


13Gress o the Forest


14Heavenly Aqua


15Honeybee, Inner Hebrides




17Meadow Brown


18Mermaid Pool


19Mine Howe, Orkney


20Ravendean Burn




22Robert Burns' Mither at the Well


23Shepherd's Calendar


24Song Sparrow


25St Medana's Well


26The Black Bike


27The Canto of Tweed's Mouth


28The Ericstane Brooch


29The Green Well of Scotland


30The Harp to Aeolus


31The Rant of the Trows


32The Rink


33The Sealstone of Caracalla


34Viking Boy


35Wedding in Stobo Kirk


36While I was Away