The Cuckoo’s Haiku: and Other Birding Poems is a springtime feast for the eyes and mind. Michael J. Rosen, author of 75 books, is a poet and devoted birder with a crystal clear talent for imparting lyrical wisdom about our fine feathered friends. As Rosen puts it on the book’s jacket flap,  “Haiku and bird-watching are kindred arts: the subject of both is often a fleeting impression—a snatched glimpse. Yet a long, steady look through the binoculars’ lenses can turn a familiar sight into something astonishing.” The Northern mockingbird, for instance: “the one-man bird band: / diva, choir, and orchestra / unbroken record.” The belted kingfisher: “the trapeze itself / kingfisher swings tree to tree / fish catch in his fall.”

The book is divided into seasonal sections that salute the natural wonder of birds in their various habitats. Spring brings the Eastern bluebird, the Canada goose and the ruby-throated hummingbird while winter’s chapter honors the blue jay, purple finch and wild turkey. The watercolor accompaniment by illustrator Stan Fellows is stunning; each page is a stand-alone work of art. All told, more than 20 common American birds are given uncommonly artful treatment; the volume bears the look of a perfected field journal. The thrill of bird-watching—the skill of correctly identifying each one—is contagious, and Rosen’s lovely and poised haikus are as graceful as flight. The book concludes with “Notes for Birdwatchers and Haiku Lovers,” but only after the black-billed cuckoo gets her tribute: “the cuckoo’s haiku / hidden like the chance of rain / its name repeating.”

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