Saturday, July 2, 2016

Summer Rerun Prompt #213– Tell It to the Birds

As noted in an earlier post, summer is the time for reruns here on the blog. I've selected a number of old prompts that I hope you'll find interesting and useful. Even if you've used these prompts before, revisiting them just might generate some new ideas for new poems.

Here we go!

Prompt #213 – Tell It to the Birds

I’ve always loved birds (they appear frequently in my poems), and I raised small exotic birds for many years. Although I don't have any exotics living in the house with me now, I feed the backyard birds, especially during the cold months, and I always look forward to seeing them—from the nondescript sparrows to the brilliant cardinals. Summer is, of course, a wonderful time for bird watching.
This week, I’d like you write create a poem in which you direct your comments (a kind of monologue) to a bird. You may be serious or humorous, but the idea is to come up with a theme that somehow relates to or juxtaposes bird life and human life. For example, some possible themes might include freedom, flight/flying, providing for children, and not wanting to be caged (literally or figuratively).


Think of all the bird species you know and select one (i.e., sparrow, lark, robin, canary, zebra finch, parrot, macaw, hawk, egret, heron, mourning dove, early bird, night owl, phoenix, stork).

Make a list of things that you might say to a bird—work toward a single theme and stick to that theme.

Write a poem in which you talk to a bird-member of the species you chose.

An alternative might be to address comments to more than one bird (that reminds me of the story about St. Francis of Assisi and how he preached to a flock of birds).

Or, you might want to try a conversation with a bird in which you and the bird speak to one another (dialogue rather than monologue).

You may prefer a humorous approach and address a bird that dropped a little “something” on your shoulder or head, the stork that delivered your son or daughter, the crow that stole a piece of your jewelry, or the parrot (parakeet) that learned a few naughty words.


Think in terms of no more than a 12-15 lines.

Don’t spend a lot of time in describing the bird—focus on what you have to say to it.

Depending on which source you consult, you’ll find that various birds are symbolic of different qualities. Here are a few general ideas:
  • Doves symbolize peace.
  • Eagles symbolize power, resurrection, and courage.
  • Cranes symbolizes long life and immortality.
  • Falcons symbolize protection.
  • Nightingales symbolize love and longing.
  • Sparrows symbolize hope, gentleness, and intelligence.
  • Swans symbolize gracefulness and beauty.
  • Herons symbolize self-reliance and determination.
  • Hawks symbolize guardianship, illumination, and truth.
  • Woodpeckers symbolize magic and prophecy.
  • Robins symbolize joy, hope, and happiness.
  • Cardinals symbolize loved ones who have passed.
  • Crows symbolize trickery, cunning, and theft.


P.S. The image above was taken three years ago when a mama robin built her nest in one of my cedar trees. There were four babies, and all grew up to be fully feathered and to fly away.


  1. Great idea - summer reruns! A lot of people travel during the summer months and there are more outdoor activities going on as well, so this is a great way to revisit and rewrite in between.

  2. No teaching this summer and traveling as much as I can! I'll check in from time to time, though. Have a great summer.