I found an online version of "The Complete Prose Works of Walt Whitman" today and read a few passages out of "Specimen Days" (click here for a link to the online version of this book). If you jump to page 196, you'll find the following entry for March 16, "A Meadow Lark:"
March 16.—Fine, clear, dazzling morning, the sun an hour high, the air just tart enough. What a stamp in advance my whole day receives from the song of that meadow lark perch’d on a fence-stake twenty rods distant! Two or three liquid-simple notes, repeated at intervals, full of careless happiness and hope. With its peculiar shimmering slow progress and rapid-noiseless action of the wings, it flies on a way, lights on another stake, and so on to another, shimmering and singing many minutes.It was such a beautiful entry and reminded me of an encounter with an Eastern Meadowlark I had this summer at Voice of America (VOA) Park. I went back to look at the photos I took, and decided this time around they were good enough to post. Back in June, when the living was easy, and the birds were lit by warm sunlight, I was a lot pickier. These photos didn't make the cut back then, but now......after weeks of gray clouds and rain, those happy, summery, blurry yellow chest feathers look just fine to me...
...an Eastern Meadowlark sings sweetly at VOA Park in West Chester, Ohio.
It was beautiful day when this Eastern Meadowlark sang out his song. I remember wanting to lock the feelings in...it was warm, sunny, and breezy, and lots of Bobolinks, Red-winged Blackbirds and Meadowlarks sang from every corner of the meadow. All the birds were busy sitting on nests or feeding babies, and insects buzzed nonstop. A breeze whipped the June energy through the grasses...and the daisies, Black-eyed Suzans, and hot pink Dianthus nodded approval with each gust. Summer was at full tilt, and it was a perfect day.
Eastern Meadowlarks are short-distance migrants and can be found year-round at VOA, but the birds you see perched amid falling snowflakes in the winter may not be the same birds braving the heat in the summer. Many of our wintering meadowlarks will migrate further north for the breeding season and will be replaced by more southern birds completing their short-distance migration, so this bird and the birds that are at the park now, are probably not the same.