Thursday, October 12, 2023

Poetry Friday: Birdtober Day Thirteen: Potoo

Happy Poetry Friday! It's Day Thirteen of Birdtober, which was created as a series of prompts for visual artists, but which I use (this is my third year now) as prompts for poems. Below you'll find links to the first twelve days of content, and then today's poem. Don't forget to visit our host, Catherine, at Reading to the Core, to see what everyone else is sharing on this Poetry Friday!

Day One: Blue-winged Pitta 

Day Two: Cuban Trogon 

Day Three: Eastern Rosella

Day Four: Superb Fruit-Dove 

Day Five: Common Tailorbird

Day Six: Albatross 

Day Seven: Bearded Reedling 

Day Eight: Pin-tailed Whydah 

Day Nine: Peregrine Falcon 

Day Ten: Strawberry Finch 

Day Eleven: Magnificent Frigatebird 

Day Twelve: Azure Tit 


There are seven species of Potoo listed on eBird. I've seen -- and heard -- only one, and only once: the Common Potoo, in October of 2021 in Paraguarí, Paraguay. When I listened to the first video below, the call of this bird took me right back to that time and place. The second video has information about the members of this odd bird family.



That night in Escobar
in rural Paraguay,
at the end of a day of birds,
we went out in the yard
after dinner.

We saw and heard
Short-tailed Nighthawks, three of them,
a Common Pauraque,
a Tropical Screech-Owl,

and a Common Potoo,
a Ghost Bird,
hunting moths with his wide mouth,
filling the warm spring evening
with his haunting cry.

From that night in Escobar
I remember the insect chorus,
the friendly light from the house,
the sense that there was more in the world
than I had known.

©Ruth Bowen Hersey


Tabatha said...

What a cool sound! It seems like it would inspire composers and songwriters. Glad it also inspires poets!

Irene Latham said...

Wow, Ruth, your bird collection is really growing! I love how much your love for birds shines in these poems! And you share so many amazing facts. You inspire me! xo

jama said...

Enjoyed your poem (very evocative!) and learning about the potoo. How fun to follow your Birdtober posts. I feel smarter . . . :)

Denise Krebs said...

Wow, you have seen and remember a Potoo--words of a true birder! I love that wide mouth of this sweet-looking bird. Thanks for spreading the birding love to so many of your readers.

Susan T. said...

That call was not what I expected at all! How cool is your collection of birds and bird poems here, Ruth. I enjoyed your poem. Even though we have plenty of mourning doves here in CT, their call always takes me back to Texas, where my grandparents lived.

Linda Mitchell said...

Super cool's very soothing. Did you ever hear many at one time? It seems like such a solitary sound. That sense of there being more than what's known really matches the feel of that call.

Sally Murphy said...

Wow. I love this call, and also your memory, especially 'the sense that there was more in the world than I had known'. Indeed!

Mary Lee said...

Just your list of bird-inspired poems so far this month gives me
"the sense that there was more in the world
than I had known."

Such an impressive project and WOW is your life list amazing. I guess it helps that you have lived more places than just Ohio!!

Catherine Flynn said...

"...There was more to the world/than I had known" is so true and such a wonderful line. Thank you for introducing me to potoo (and for reminding me about birdtober!)

Michelle Kogan said...

What a fabulous and spooooky bird, and yes there's "more in the world
than I had known." Terrific poem, thanks for sharing this wide-eyed wonder Ruth!