Memories of Long-Ago Birds

Memories of Long-Ago Birds

For Audubon's field editor, these recollections enrich his birdwatching and his being

By Frank Graham Jr.
Published: 01/23/2013
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Frank Graham Jr.

Frank Graham Jr. is a field editor for Audubon.

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine


A handful of year ago I was

A handful of year ago I was out at the barn with my horse. I looked up to see four gyrfalcons circling directly above. They had come as far south as Indiana, which they apparently sometimes do. I was so stunned, amazed, and thrilled! I love birds and a new sighting is always so exciting! This one, in particular, will resonate with me forever. It was a blessing.

haunting melody

Many summers ago, I left my dinner half made on the kitchen counter to track down the bird singing a lovely, haunting song in my back yard. I finally identified it as a wood thrush. To this day, the song of a woodthrush evokes a lazy summer evening no matter what time of day I am lucky enough to hear it.

My mockingbird

I love birds and have become more involved in learning about them. But my favorite bird is the mockingbird. Its seems wherever I move to a mockingbird follows me. We just moved to our permanant home and there welcoming me was my mockingbird!!!!
My father moved next door to me for 15 years before he passed away and we shared a mockingbird between our two acres. We loved to hear it sing and keep watch over us. Everytime I see a mockingbird I think fondly of my father who love nature and birds.

Special Moment

I was in my yard about ten years ago, on a beautiful Autumn day. I was wondering if I should remove the hummingbird feeder as I hadn't seen the resident female lately. My neighbor's purring cat was rubbing my shin, and I knelt down to pet her. Right then, the hummingbird hovered in front of my face, as if to say "Thanks for the nectar - See you next year", and off she flew. It was a special moment.

bird friends

I was vacationing at Disney's Wilderness Lodge and practicing to make a loud whistle like I heard in the 60's, made by appreciative fans at rock concerts in the 60s and failing miserably, I noticed the appearance of a red rockin robin. When I traveled across town to Wekiva Springs to practice, there appeared briefly rockin red and again in Dr. Phillips. I liked that!

opera glasses

through a pair of hand-me-down “opera glasses” sure brought back memories of using my mother's opera glasses for my first bird watching efforts back in the early 1960s

song of a bird (Blackbird, Amsel)

May I share with you :
An evening hour, I was sitting on a 'highstand', overseeing young woodland and meadows, observing wildlife.. There was some daylight,left and a stretch of pink on the western horizon. No wind,the bird-songs had already turned off their concert. Suddenly,.. six feet to my right, a blackbird lit on top of a young spruce.. a beutiful male, with a strong yellow beak. I could see every feather.,,he seemed as if in haste, maybe late for the concert, at least so it seemed to me.. He now had the audience for himself and I was his lone observer.So close, and yet so alone he was.. But then he sang for me. It was his evening prayer.He sang with such dedication and the short little feathers of his neck vibrated quite clearly.His voice was so strong or was it because I was so close.He never knew I was there... Then with a hop, he lifted off from his high position and hurried on further down where the darkness had taken over..I felt alone...and then I thought: how sad that we cannot communicate. with one another. It was sixty some years ago that I listened to him


Great article! For me that bird is a hummingbird. The first time I saw one was at Effigy Mounds, National Monument in IA, overlooking the Mississippi. It was a profound moment for me, a sense of the Sacred. Whenever I see a hummingbird to this day, I have a sense of peace and calm that I had that first time. Thanks for the wonderful reminder.


This is just lovely. Sometimes it's so hard to articulate the content which builds our most significant memories -- and you've done just this! I love birds -- I love life -- and I am a writer; so you've touched me on many levels with this. Thank you!

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