Poetry Sunday: The Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird in my backyard.

Bluebirds seem to be omnipresent in my garden these days. A pair of the birds (male pictured above) recently fledged four youngsters from this bluebird box in my vegetable garden. These days, I often see the juvenile birds following their parents around the yard, learning the necessary skills of being a bluebird.

These gentle and beautiful birds have long been favorites of humans. These days we put up nesting boxes to help them out because so many of the dead trees that they used to nest in get removed from the landscape before they can be utilized by birds. 

In the early 1900s, though,  it was still possible for a pair of bluebirds to find a dead tree with a hole where they could build their nest and raise their family. The naturalist John Burroughs was an admirer and he wrote a poem about bluebirds that referred to their use of abandoned woodpecker holes - "the Downy's cell." It is a paean of praise to this wonderful bird.

The Bluebird
         by John Burroughs

A wistful note from out the sky,
“Pure, pure, pure,” in plaintive tone,
As if the wand’rer were alone,
And hardly knew to sing or cry.
But now a flash of eager wing,
Flitting, twinkling by the wall,
And pleading sweet and am’rous call,–
Ah, now I know his heart doth sing!
O bluebird, welcome back again,
Thy azure coat and ruddy vest
Are hues that April loveth best,–
Warm skies above the furrowed plain.
The farm boy hears thy tender voice,
And visions come of crystal days,
With sugar-camps in maple ways,
And scenes that make his heart rejoice.
The lucid smoke drifts on the breeze,
The steaming pans are mantling white,
And thy blue wing’s a joyous sight,
Among the brown and leafless trees.
Now loosened currents glance and run,
And buckets shine on sturdy boles,
The forest folk peep from their holes,
And work is play from sun to sun.
The Downy beats his sounding limb,
The nuthatch pipes his nasal call,
And robin perched on treetop tall
Heavenward lifts his evening hymn.
Now go and bring thy homesick bride,
Persuade her here is just the place
To build a home and found a race
In Downy’s cell, my lodge beside.


  1. Wow, Dorothy, talk about envy! I can't imagine getting to see Bluebirds nesting and fledging in my own backyard. Wonderful photo of the male, he's really adorable.

    1. It is one of the great pleasures of my garden to have bluebirds in residence.


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