I love eastern kingbirds. They appear each May, zapping their "fork in an electric socket" calls and fluttering from treetop to wire and back again. This week we've had a half-dozen or so hanging around the neighbors' hayfields. And I finally had the time and cooperative sunlight to digiscope a few of them.
Recently I was given the honor of introducing Kenn Kaufman as the keynote speaker at the Ohio Ornithological Society's annual conference. Those of you who know me realize that I relished this opportunity as a chance to swerve from the middle of the road. Sure I could've done the boring emcee thing and cited Kenn's long list of accomplishments, his many published works, his years of leading bird tours, but no.
I decided to write a song for the occasion.
And that song, copped from Hank Williams, Sr's "Lost Highway" morped into a song bearing the same title as Kenn's book "Kingbird Highway." If you have read the book, these lyrics might resonate with you. If you have not read the book, well, I am sorry amigo, but you have not led a full life. Get it. Read it. Come back here for the lyrics.
Kingbird Highway (with apologies to Hank Williams, Sr.)
I’m a rollin’ stone all alone and lost
For a life of birds I have paid the cost
When I pass by all the people say
There’s that weird dude who wrote Kingbird Highway
With binoculars and an old field guide
Eating canned cat food and trying to hitch a ride
To add one more bird to my big year LIST
If I miss that bird, well I’ll sure be…..MAD
I was just a lad, nearly 17
When I left my home to chase those things with wings
Then I lost my scope, it got washed away
Lord I paid the cost, on the Kingbird Highway
Now if you’re out just a chasin’ birds
At the sewage plant, where there’s lots of …..YELLOWLEGS
Just keep your cool, don’t get carried away
As you travel down that Kingbird Highway
Kenn dug it. Hope you do, too.
Meanwhile, spend some time appreciating what a great bird the eastern (or western) kingbird is.