For all my birding friends out there, who are preparing for the Christmas Bird Count, I thought I would share my poem, “Confusing Fall Warblers.”

The poem was inspired by Plate 52 in Roger Tory Peterson’s A Field Guide to the Birds, which bears the same title, and features all the bird names that appear in that plate in one poem.

I’ve also decided to try out Xtranormal — a fun text-to-movie application, which adds a curious dimension to the telling of the poem, which you can watch here:

Here is the poem as it appeared in the journal Isotope, Spring 2004:


Confusing Fall Warblers

(Roger Tory Peterson’s A Field Guide to the Birds, plate 52)

“You changed your name from Brown to Jones and mine from Brown to Blue” George Jones


Was it Hank Williams

she called the Nashville warbler,

or was it the black-throated blue?

Was it Wilson’s warbler

she heard in the bog up north

chattering chi chi chi chi chi chet chet?


Yellow-throat or orange-crowned,

from Tennessee, Connecticut, or

Canada, the prothonotary

clerks for the vireo from Philly,

who is neither lawyer nor warbler,

but is often mistaken–


Was it the hooded warbler

that startled her from the thicket,

or mourning warbler’s balancing notes

chirry chirry, chorry chorry,

that made her cock her head

to listen for its secret?


And tell me, tell me truly,

was it only

that sad country song

playing on the car radio

that made her cry?


–Scott Edward Anderson

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