Poetry Friday: Feathers

A few days ago I found a pile of feathers near one of the birdfeeders. I examined them closely and wondered what bird had lost them. There were quite a few, so I don’t think it ended well for the owner. What was the story behind them, I wondered?

I took a few feathers inside to compare to online pictures and descriptions. Since I know which birds are frequent backyard visitors, I narrowed down the choices quickly. But, I’m still not certain which one offered up those feathers. I did find out, however, that it is illegal to keep the feathers of non-game birds, so when I was finished with my poem I returned them to nature. I recently wrote a picture book manuscript that mentions a child repurposing bird feathers she finds in her backyard. Maybe I should rethink that story.


Who’s been here?
A mess of feathers leaves a clue.
Brown and black that make a stripe,
Downy fluff
Of gray and white.
Was it dove
With her woeful coo?
Or maybe wren, with his  
tea-kettle-tea-kettle-tea-kettle woo?
I wonder –
Did they get to say goodbye?

Margaret has today’s Poetry Round Up on Reflections on the Teche. Be sure to check it out!

This entry was posted in Poetry Friday. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Poetry Friday: Feathers

  1. cvarsalona says:

    Rose, I like your backstory leading to your poem. I did not know that it is illegal to keep the feathers of non-game birds. I ask the series of questions you posed. It reminded me of a query that might be used with the little ones. I think in this case, it is best to return the feathers to nature.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. janicescully says:

    Interesting about the law against keeping bird feathers. I didn’t know that. I guess because we get pandemics from the wild animal world? It’s lovely to pay attention to the loss of a bird and say goodbye to it.


  3. lindabaie says:

    I didn’t know it was illegal either, but you can bring mites into the house with them. My grandfather taught me that. I searched again & they are not dangerous, usually drop off inside. I love the rhythm of your poem, Rose, a thought from nature well intended!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sometimes in the deliberations and wonderings around our writing, we make new and surprising discoveries, as you have done with your feathery findings Rose. It is often the case that new and unexpected discoveries are unearthed. This is the payoff for the curious learner within. I like how your poem explores your ponderings around the discovery of the feathers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Mitchell Linda says:

    Oh, that tea kettle call. How fun! I never saw it spelled out like that before. I like how this poem is a question–we don’t need the answer to go on the journey of imagining what bird this might be. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. maryleehahn says:

    Oops! I have a couple of bird feathers taped into my writer’s notebook. I’ll leave those, but move forward with the new information (to many of us, apparently) that you shared! We’ve had similar experiences with piles of feathers near the bird feeder, reminding us that sometimes it’s the seeds feeding the birds, and other times the birds feeding the hawks! Sadly, occasionally, it is a neighborhood cat who gets one of the birds, but we have enough perching places near the feeder that as long as they aren’t a ground-feeding bird, they have ways to stay safe from cats.

    I love the way an ordinary experience turned into both a poem and research!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kay Mcgriff says:

    Lovely poem, Rose. I enjoy the sense of wonder and wondering. I didn’t know about the feathers, but it is similar to the law about collecting mussel shells (a protected river species here in IN). Obviously, you can’t harvest live mussels, but you cannot keep the discarded shells either. I suspect it would be hard for someone to know how you got the shells.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. haitiruth says:

    I never heard that about feathers before. I like your poem! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Such a bittersweet, yearning poem, Rose!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. margaretsmn says:

    I am a feather collector. I saw a bunch this morning on a walk and I’m afraid the reason was a violent encounter with a cat. I love the onomatopoeia in your poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. laurashovan222 says:

    Rose, I love the way your rhyming words are the bird’s calls. Beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s