Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Birdtober Day Twenty-Seven: African Pied Wagtail


Today's prompt is the White Wagtail, a European bird, but I chose instead to write about the African Pied Wagtail. I was looking at some of my brother's Kenya checklists and clicking on random birds to see if I remembered any of them from my childhood in Kenya. Some seemed familiar, like the Lilac-breasted Roller and the Eurasian Hoopoe. And then there was this little guy, the African Pied Wagtail. I commented to my brother that it brought back a lot of memories. (We had some bird paintings on our wall back then, and maybe one of them was this bird?) He suggested I listen to the sound and said he thought that would bring back memories too -- and it did!


  Photo Source:

I did more research about these African Pied Wagtails here, here, here, here, and here. And then I wrote this poem:


African Pied Wagtail

Before I paid attention, they were everywhere.
Before I knew what a bird was, they were part of my definition,
their song the soundtrack to my childhood games,

Little black and white birds,
wagging their tails and eating bugs,
entirely unnoticed by me.

Now, when I look them up
I learn that some people
think they bring bad luck
and others
think they bring good luck.
Maybe that means they are just neutral,
the background to whatever’s going to happen,
there in good and bad.

Motacilla aguimp,
little mover with a wimple,
moving about unobtrusively
like helpful nuns,
or ubiquitous newsprint,
just there, getting things done,
without taking too much attention for themselves.

Little black and white birds,
wagging their tails and eating bugs,
in a far-off place where I used to live.

©Ruth Bowen Hersey

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