Category Archives: Ornithology

Teacher, Teacher !

It’s morning again.

Deep in our woods
an Ovenbird calls,
sharply confident:

“Teacher, Teacher, Teacher, Teacher!”

I walk and watch,
listen and search,
for this elusive bird.
He must be near,
it’s him I hear.
Out there, in the Black Cherry.
Now overhead, in the Red Oak.

Now silence.
He’s moved.

“Teacher, Teacher, Teacher, Teacher!”

– from the east now.
I carefully stalk
toward his new site.
Overnight showers soften
my foot-plant on old oak leaves.
I avoid brittle branches
with strategically placed steps.

His rising crescendo is easy to hear,
but difficult to find in these leafy woods.
I search the branches for the source of his song:

“Teacher, Teacher, Teacher, Teacher!”

Suddenly, like a feathered leaf,
he flutter-falls fast to the forest floor,
then walks with purpose on thin, pink legs.
His feet seem large for this delicate bird.

Silent while feeding, eating what I cannot see.
I admire bold, dark streaks on a white breast;
his prominent, white eye-rings around black eyes;
and his distinctive head stripe: black-rusty-black.


Now retired from the classroom,
I have this morning free,
and time to  pursue and find,
and time to observe and learn…

from this Ovenbird, 
my Teacher.

©  2014  Richard Havenga






Listen to the first five seconds of the call of the Ovenbird from Cornell Labs.

Please read about a similar-looking bird, the Wood Thrush:  “Song of Grace”


You may also like to learn about the Brown Thrasher:  “The Improvisator




Photo Location:  Home Woods


Click on photos to enlarge.