The Evening of the Grosbeaks – An American Birding Association Young Birder Poem

By ABA Young Birder – Owen Robertson

Evening Grosbeak photographed by Owen Deutsch

In 2021

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

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.