Friday, December 18, 2009

Two nights before Bird Counts

The following poem was composed and posted to the Minnesota bird listserve a few years back by Roger Schroeder. 
It is one of my favorite Christmas bird count period pieces and helps describe how difficult it can be to decide where to go each year.  I have reposted it here (as I do somewhere every year). I hope you enjoy it. :D  

Two Nights Before Bird Counts-- by Roger Schroeder 

Two Nights before bird counts And I'm, wide awake;
Been tossing and turning Since a quarter past eight.
The birds and the places have my heart full of cheer
But I just can't decide who to help out this year
A Snowy Owl turned up in the County of Murray.
Now Janet is hoping the bird does not scurry.
She's trying to get in place a good team
So Audubon accepts this count with more glee
Gray Jays are flooding in to the northwest
For DL and Crookston that may be the best
Now, Tamarac and Warren may get them too
But how will I get to them all? WHAT TO DO?
But three! Not just one Gray-crowned Rosy Finch
Seem very reliable  - that may be a cinch
Though Carlton-Cloquet is across the whole state
And would mean a long drive after its already late
But darn it the Marshall Count's on the same day
 ( Maybe I'll pass it off and get far away. ) 
I've always wanted to help the count in Duluth 
 (I'd like to live there to tell you the truth)
Now what about those counts in the Southeast
that get titmice and eagles to the just the least
Winona, I think, would be a neat place to go
I'd rack up some new county birds then, you know.
La Crosse-La Crescent - one of my favorite locations
Consistently get waterfowl while on their migration
Then perhaps I could join Hockema on Rochester's count
Wait. That's the same day... that idea's out.
The Falls are quite scattered to travel by car
International, and Fergus might be just too far
Redwood is closer, Little I've done
(And I mean the location, the count there was fun!)
Oh how I long to bird all these great places 
That congregate together so many nice faces
Grand places like Rapids, and also Marais
(Places I'd also love to permanently stay)
Cook, and Mankato, and Itasca State Park
Owatonna, New Ulm, and Rice Lake NWR, 
Pine County, Long Prairie, Crosby, Battle Lake
Wild River and then Albert Lea - - heaven's sake!
I've already done Beltrami Island, and Big Stone
And know I can't make it to Ely by my own.
Aurora and Bemidji I'd both like to try
And want to get to Wabasha 'fore I die
New Year's day offers its set of challenges then
I want to try Pillager, and do Philbrook with Ben.
Mountain Lake-Windom is closer to Home,
But how I would love to again Baudette roam.
The vast metro area always turns up good birds 
Maybe for Northern Wright County this year's my turn.
Excelsior, Afton, Cedar Creek Bog, Hastings-Etter
The possibilities just get better and better.
One in Minneapolis - There's two in Saint Paul
How can I possibly get to them all!?!
There's more than 70 Christmas Bird Counts this year!
The choice will be difficult, that's perfectly clear.
WOW! The news from Bloomington is something to say!
Will that Slaty-backed Gull stick around two more days?
Austin that next day then might be it,
But that conflicts with Two Harbors, oh I quit!
Sorry, Dad, I can't cover your ground there in Hutch
For me, this list is growing way too much.
Willmar, Virginia, Sherburne NWR
Morris, just maybe, or Isabella by car.
I should help out the portions close by North Dakota;
Moorhead, and East Grand Forks, Minnesota.
Yet Fairmont and Roseau and Hibbing need help
as they all too often are stuck by themselves.
Sax-Zim, Faribault, and Henderson would be new.
But St. Cloud-Collegeville needs some help too.
How can there possibly be this many choices
Thirteen days could be filled with birds and their voices.
Now I'm getting stressed, and I'm losing sleep
This frantic a pace - although fun - I could not keep.
I suppose its the same old thing this year again
Lamberton, Cottonwood, and Lac qui Parle...
                                        ... with good friends.
Strange how we see each other but just once a year
Yet the room comes alive with refreshing new cheer.
Reliving the day, and the days that have gone by
Perhaps close to home are the best counts to try.

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