By ABA Young Birder – Owen Robertson
during that fever dream of online school
of evening light at midday
of flakes of ash drifting down like soiled snow
I look up from my chaotic computer
and see a bird on a feeder outside.
A strange bird.
Unfamiliar to me.
I get up
neglecting the tinny chatter of my geometry teacher
and walk to the window.
On the feeder
is a large tan bird
with a grossly enlarged beak.
It’s a female Evening Grosbeak
here at my house for no clearly explicable reason
but then I realize.
Up in the mountains
on the fir-clad slopes of elevation made pure
this bird’s home is burning.
It has fled
from the cool comfort of alpine streams and springs now made feverish
to my backyard.
The hellfire we see in our skies
has touched down in the land of this bird.
I’ve seen Evening Grosbeaks before
but in this apocalyptic evening sunset light
I see it in a new way.
Perhaps this is the evening of the grosbeaks
a climax before the curtain falls.
I dearly hope it is not so
but the possibility must be entertained.
But it’s not the curtain call just yet
for this one brave bird.
And in a world of giant exoduses
getting bigger every day
this small one seems even more important to me.
Owen Robertson is a fifteen-year-old birder from Louisville, Colorado. An incoming junior at New Vista High School in Boulder, he volunteers with the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks and in the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History’s Vertebrate Collections. Owen has participated in the American Birding Association Young Birder of the Year program for the last two years and received first-place honors for his writing and community leadership work. He has been a birder for over ten years and is incredibly grateful to his loving family for their support. The bird he’d most like to see next is the Colima Warbler.