Choices - a poem about befriending our birds

 — Contemporary American poet Tess Gallagher tells of a moment she made an important choice.  This brief and brilliant poem reminds us once again that we are stewards of our gardens, our woodlands, our trees – and of all the living creatures that share our habitat. May your birds bring you great joy, as you befriend and protect them.


By Tess Gallagher

I go to the mountain side
of the house to cut saplings,
and clear a view to snow
on the mountain. But when I look up,
saw in hand, I see a nest clutched in
the uppermost branches.
I don’t cut that one.
I don’t cut the others either.
Suddenly, in every tree,   
an unseen nest
where a mountain   
would be.                             

Befriending Birds - Blue Sky and Birds Nests
Trees full of birds' nests silhouetted against a brilliant blue sky
Many thanks to Graywolf Press for permission to share “Choices”:
  • Tess Gallagher, “Choices” from Midnight Lantern: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2011 by Tess Gallagher.  Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.

  • Source: Midnight Lantern: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2011)

Befriending Birds - Five Blue Eggs in a Nest
Can you identify the bird that laid these eggs? Photograph by J. ZICKEFOOSE - Explore the listed site links to find the answer


Many gardeners become amateur ornithologists, watching birds and identifying them by their calls, their colors and markings, their nesting places and habits.   If you are a bird lover, you’ll enjoy exploring this incredible Birds of North America site from Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in conjunction with the American Ornithology Society:

Birds of North America – Photos

Birds of North America – Bird Calls

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