“Thoughts on Robert Frost’s A Minor Bird” by Liliane Parkinson

Why do we drive the birds away,
When we could watch them every day
And listen to their songs?


Do we clap our hands in glee,
To see her nesting in a tree,
Guarding her precious eggs?
Do we feed her when it snows,
And build a birdhouse so he knows
Safety in the storm?


Do we catch the stealthy rats
And keep inside our little cats?
For they are deadly foes.


The cats and rats and nasty stoats
Came to our shores in wooden boats.
Enduring the stormy seas.
Joined by possums, weasels, goats,
And mice who stilled the warbled notes,
Of morning choruses.


So many birds have been and gone.
Clearing the native bush was wrong.
Changing habitats.
Men prized their feathers for sacred cloaks
And trophy crowns for chiefly blokes.
Their beauty was a trap.


“They feed us all!” the warriors cried.
But large or small the species died,
Extinct before we realised.
When the tall moa were all eaten,
Alas the giant eagle was beaten.
No prey. No predators.


Magical huia you cannot spy.
Piopio and wren no longer fly,
Or sing their special songs.


Kaki, takahe, kakapo,
And shy Chatam Island taiko,
Their habitat is under threat.
Seabirds, mollymawk and shag,
Storm petrel sightings lag
And rare now is the rowi.


Who has seen kakariki?
Or heard them calling ki-ki-ki,
In the alpine bush?


Is black robins’ future sweet?
Old Blue, we celebrate your feat.
Grand matriach of all.


From coastal seas to mountains high,
The pests must go and we must try,
To save these precious few.