Bird mnemonics #ThoreaulyInspired #NPM #NaPoWriMo #NationalPoetryMonth #ProgressivePoem #PoetryFriday

Welcome to Poetry Friday, everyone! I am excited and honored to host the roundup this week and to be offering up the next line for the Progressive Poem. As usual, I’m sweating it out and crossing my fingers, eyes, and toes that everything goes according to plan. For those of you new to Poetry Friday, welcome, and here’s a link to our weekly hosting schedule.


ThoreaulyInspired Logo (1)

Each day during April, I will write a poem-ish piece inspired by a word or phrase mined from the pages of Henry David Thoreau’s jewel-laden journals. I have left my challenge open so that the poems may take any form — haiku, free verse, borrowed line, blackout –and who knows which direction they will go in.

Day #24: Bird mnemonics

I hear you (3)

A peek at my process

On April 24, 1852, Thoreau wrote in his journal, “Heard again (in the village) that vetter-vetter-vetter-vetter-vet’, or tchi-tchi-tchi-tchi-tchi-tchi-tchi’ very rapidly repeated, which I heard April 23d,’ and perhaps the same that I saw April 17th (described April 18th)? I am pretty sure it is the pine warbler, yellow beneath, with faint olivaceous marks on the sides, olivaceous above, tail forked, about the size of a yellow-bird. I have not seen the fox-colored sparrow for some weeks. Thought I saw a loon on Walden yesterday.” (The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, Journal III: September 16, 1851 – April 30, 1852, Chapter VII. 1852, p. 464)

As a certified Bird Nerd, I am fascinated by bird mnemonics, as Thoreau appears to have been as well. There are many entries in his journal that include his attempts at recording the birdsong that became familiar to him. I am learning to recognize birds both by sight and sound — birding by ear. I wish Henry were around to teach me a thing or two! Some of the phonetic interpretations I have been studying worked their way into an almost-list-like poem. To learn more, check out’s “What Are Bird Song Mnemonics?

And now for…

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Our Poetry Friday family has launched the 8th annual Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem originally organized by author/poet, Irene Latham. Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche is taking over this year as the organizer. Many members of the #PoetryFriday family have signed up to provide a line for the 2020 poem, and now it is my turn! Dun-dun-duuuuuun!

Here’s where things stand with our sweet poem’s adventure thus far.

Sweet violets shimmy, daffodils sway
along the wiregrass path to the lake
I carry a rucksack of tasty cakes
and a banjo passed down from my gram.

I follow the tracks of deer and raccoon
and echo the call of a wandering loon.
A whispering breeze joins in our song
and night melts into a rose gold dawn

Deep into nature’s embrace, I fold.
Promise of spring helps shake the cold
hints of sun lightly dapple the trees
calling out the sleepy bees

Leaf-litter crackles…I pause. Twig snaps.
I gasp! Shudder! Breathe out. Relax…
as a whitetail doe comes into view.
She shifts and spotted fawns debut.

We freeze. My green eyes and her brown
Meet and lock. Time slows down.
I scatter the cakes, backing away
Safely exiting this strange ballet.

I continue the path that winds down to the lake.
Missing my breakfast for beauty’s sake

On Thursday, Ruth rather astutely noticed a lack of smell in the sense category. I’m going with…

But wait, what’s that delicious smell? (I chose this option because it leaves it open-ended which direction the smell is coming from. Ruth’s other option — But what’s that smell up there ahead? — was equally wonderful, but I believe lead to the shore of the lake. I wanted the mystery to linger longer!)

So I’m offering up to Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, the poem’s next host…

  1. Something familiar, I know so well. (Could be food or a spring flower. Our explorer is getting quite hungry at this point, but the “whispering breeze” and “promise of spring” make me think more floral. What say you, Amy? Fresh biscuits, pancakes, muffins, or an early spring flower?)
  2. Lily of the valley pealing her bells. (Going with personification and a near rhyme. The spring flower route is in honor of May Day, the day after our poem ends. It also plays around with scent vs. sound. We wouldn’t have the gorgeous scent if the “whispering breeze” didn’t make the bells “peal.”)

Now I turn things over to Amy at The Poem Farm. I can’t wait to see what she does while writing in Betsy the Camper. That’s where the magic happens! Scroll on down to the bottom, so you can see where the poem heads next week.

Thanks for joining me for this week’s roundup. Click the link and bring on the poetry, friends!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

And here’s the itinerary for the final days of the Progressive Poem.

1 Donna Smith at Mainly Write
2 Irene Latham at 
Live Your Poem
3 Jone MacCulloch, 
Liz Steinglass
Buffy Silverman
6 Kay McGriff at
7 Catherine Flynn at 
Reading to the Core
8 Tara Smith at 
Going to Walden
9 Carol Varsalona at 
Beyond Literacy Link
10 Matt Forrest Esenwine at 
Radio, Rhythm, and Rhyme
11 Janet Fagel hosted at 
Reflections on the Teche
12 Linda Mitchell at 
A Word Edgewise
13 Kat Apel at 
Kat Whiskers
14 Margaret at 
Reflections on the Teche
15 Leigh Anne Eck at 
A Day in the Life
16 Linda Baie at 
Teacher Dance
17 Heidi Mordhorst at 
My Juicy Little Universe
18 Mary Lee Hahn at
 A Year of Reading
19 Tabatha at 
Opposite of Indifference
20 Rose Cappelli at 
Imagine the Possibilities
21 Janice Scully at 
Salt City Verse
22 Julieanne Harmatz at 
To Read, To Write, To Be
23 Ruth,
24 Christie Wyman at 
Wondering and Wandering
25 Amy at 
The Poem Farm
26 Dani Burtsfield at 
Doing the Work That Matters
27 Robyn Hood Black at 
Life on the Deckle Edge
28 Jessica Bigi at TBD
29 Fran Haley at 
lit bits and pieces
Michelle Kogan

And lastly, I am also excited to share that I have joined the Teach Write blogging team and will be writing a Poetry Ponderings blog post for them every month. My first offering, Finding Your Poetry Secret Decoder Ring, is now live and May’s post, about inviting poetry into your classroom, will be up soon. And my blogging teammate, Paula Bourque, offers up Quick Write Sparks to Kindle the Poet In All of Us for her first Think & Ink post in honor of National Poetry Month. I hope you will take a peek at all of the posts by the Teach Write team!

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70 thoughts on “Bird mnemonics #ThoreaulyInspired #NPM #NaPoWriMo #NationalPoetryMonth #ProgressivePoem #PoetryFriday

  1. oooh, I feel like I’m sneaking in before it’s actually Friday. You have given us more to wonder about. Will Amy define the smell or keep the mystery open? I didn’t realize your ProgPo Day was the same as your PF Day. You must’ve planned it that way. I’ll be back sometime tomorrow to link up. By the way, love all the bird sounds in your poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, your poem is delightful! Thank you! It is an absolute conversation, and the last line made me giggle. I have been looking for some resources for bird mnemonics for next week’s nature videos – thank you for sharing these. And gosh, my wheels are spinning. I have not been visiting the poem and it was superfun to read the whole thing for the first time today before my turn. Thank you, baton passer, bird whisperer, and host for today! xx

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  3. I love your choice of the next line for the poem as well of the choices you left for Amy. There’s much to look forward to. What is that scent? The quote from Thoreau’s journal is fascinating with his take on bird song. I know your poem inspired by that couldn’t have been easy to write. What an amazing collection of sounds. Thanks for hosting, Christie!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Christie! Thank you for hosting Poetry Friday this week. I’m in awe of your April Poetry Project. It’s always pure fun to observe someone doing what they are born to do — and being a bird nerd really seems to be one of your things! And, to combine Thoreau’s journals with your interest is just super cool. I’m really enjoying it. The use of potato chip in your poem above makes me smile. I totally agree that birds talk to us with words like that.
    And, thanks for the Progressive Poem — I’m a bit behind and am catching up.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah, I am waiting, waiting for my lilies of the valley, but then I like your first choice too. We’re very close to the end, & where is that banjo going to be played? And ‘conk-a-ree’ is one of my favorite bird songs. When I hear that as I walk at a nearby wetlands/lake, I know they’re back & spring must be here! Love that poem, Chrisite. My brother can identify so many birds, but he lives in the country! And, congrats on joining the Teach-Write team. That should be very fun! Thanks so much for a wonderful post & for hosting!

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  6. Thanks for hosting this week, Christie. The progressive poem is really taking shape! I like the direction you’re taking it. And your Bird Mnemonics poem seems like it was a group effort, as well. How nice of your fine feathered friends to offer up some appropriate lines. 😉

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  7. Christie, this is the first time I heard you call yourself a bird nerd. Your poem tackles an interesting aspect of birdsong. I listen to the birds on my walks and often try to mimic their song. I would love to know more and certainly see that you are a great student with the sounds you know. I enjoyed your poem and your musings on the next line of the poem. It is fun to explore different paths, right? I look forward to seeing what Amy does with your choices. Thanks for hosting.

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      1. Every year, we follow the birth of the osprey babies at the marshland preserve. The nest this year was the largest one we ever saw. We visited before the virus closed everything down.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. We are carried on the wings of those literary giants who came before us and you have shown clearly your willingness to be informed by Thoreau’s writing. You have taken his lead and taken it to a new place with your original poem. It was Annie Dillard who said ‘Be careful what you read for that is what you’ll write.’ Well Christie, you are making some mighty fine choices with whom to associate as a reader. Thanks for sharing this insightful post and for being our host this week.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a bounty, Christie! I love your bird poem/chant and your Thoreau excerpt–especially the mention of a loon! My loon picture book comes out on Tuesday, and my ears perk up at any loon mention ;>) And, boy, did I struggle with how to write out the sounds of a loon wail in my text. Fun to see the progressive poem, too. I like that you went with smell. Thanks for hosting!

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  10. I’m a fellow nature lover and bird nerd who tragically has a very limited ear for bird song. I love your mnemonics, but try as I might, I typically hear tweet-tweet-tweet! It’s been such fun to watch the progressive poem progress, and I love your choice for today and the two options you sent along. You’re an inspiration, Christie! Can’t wait to read your next Poetry Ponderings post. Thanks for hosting this week!

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  11. Love your bird poem! I’ve been enjoying my backyard birds especially this spring. It’s no wonder that my poem this week is about my bluebirds. And the progressive poem just keeps getting better and better. Two great choices for Amy!

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  12. Only a poet would devote so much time in a post to both sound and smell… thank you! My distance vision isn’t that great, so birding by sound is a useful strategy for me. I appreciate your options for the Progressive Poem, too. Great job! Thanks for hosting. xo

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  13. Thanks for hosting! I love your bird mnemonics poem (your whole project, really…it’s so rich, the way you are mining Thoreau!), and I think this Progressive Poem is turning out to be our best so far! You chose a great line and moved the poem on with fabulous picks for Amy!

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  14. You are so busy, this is such a rich post. I love what you have done with your bird poems, and now you are hosting Poetry Friday which I have been late to visit in the past year with grandchildren duty which is 24/7 when there….so I am just marinating in all this poetry goodness. And loving the chance to catch up. I love the lily of the valley offering and your choice, but your other line also can take us to a great spot. Oh to hand off to Amy and I know you two are friends. It is a great spot to be. Just here, with you, with this group, with these poets and friends and teachers and birds. Well color me joyful!!!! Wonderful, Christie. So glad we met in B-more. How lucky for me!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, so glad we did get to meet in Charm City, as it makes our virtual connections even more meaningful. I confess that while I don’t love staring at a computer screen as much as I am, I am feeling very connected to this great, big, wonderful family of ours, and so grateful for it. Be well! xx


  15. What a charming poem — I wish I were observant enough to recognize birds by their sounds. I only know a few obvious ones, like the chickadee and Carolina wren. Thanks for reminding us that it’s actually spring, and we shouldn’t miss all its wonders worrying about everything else. This year’s Progressive Poem could be my favorite so far. Nice options, and thanks for hosting this week.

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  16. Oh yeah! I didn’t even think about where the smell was (forward or behind), I was thinking about whether it was a good smell or a bad one. Good call! (Thanks for hosting!)

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  17. So much going on in a time when not much seems to be going on! I’m impressed. Thanks for hosting today, and thanks for linking us to all these great poetry happenings. LOVE the bird mnemonics… I used to teach the preschoolers to make a dawn chorus, and we learned some of these songs. Lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thanks for hosting. I posted earlier, but waited to read your post until I caught up with the Progressive Poem. And there is so much to love in your post. Bird sounds intrigue me, especially the attempt to write them. And your two line offerings are wonderful. I really want to hear our banjo, so I’m leaning toward the line about the pealing of the bells. Amy and her camper will decide for us. And now I’m off to check out your posts on Teach Write. There’s so much to follow, I can’t keep up.

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  19. Adding a sense of smell was a terrific direction, and I anxiously await how it is revealed. I have so enjoyed your journey with Thoreau. I find myself missing a few days and then playing catch-up. I am outside right now listening to the coo of a turtledove. Perfect timing! Thanks for hosting this week.

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  20. Thanks for hosting today! I absolutely love your bird mnemonics poem. That’s what it sounds like outside, especially first thing in the morning. You served up two delicious lines for Amy to choose from.

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  21. Wow! A poetic feast for senses over here today Christie – Thanks for putting in such thought and creativity all around, and for hosting, hosting, hosting! Also, I enjoyed the Poetry Friday mnenomics, “Dun-dun-duuuuuun” – the poetry bird!

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  22. Your bird mnemonics poem is awesome. I love your theme for Poetry month! And I love listening to bird songs. I’m getting to recognize a few of them, but haven’t tried to translate them onto the page. And I’m enjoying following the path of the progressive poem, as well–a feast for the senses, indeed!

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  23. This post is a feast for the senses, Christie! As I read, the morning birds are singing the world awake and I feel like I’m listening to “Bird Mnemonics” come alive. And your line choice and options for Amy are making my mouth water, imagining all possibilities for “that delicious smell.” Thank you for hosting today!

    Liked by 1 person

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