The brown chickadee still chirps on the tree,
Though it yields scanty wealth of larvae and bee,
Though its branches are stripp'd of blossom and leaf,
And shrill blows the wind with a murmur of grief.
Though orchards are bleak and woodlands are bare,
And the breath of the winter hath frozen the air,
Though the brook in the meadow is shrunken and low,
For the blight of the ice hath fetter'd its flow;
Though the river is white with the icicle gleam,
And the foliage all wither'd on banks of the stream,
Yet this blithe little bird remains with us still,
To flit o'er the valley and skim o'er the hill.
Ah, sweet little warbler, why linger so long;
Why cheer our bleak forests with musical song,
While far in the South spread tropical groves,
And perfum'd the breeze perennial roves?
There lie scenes that are fill'd with midsummer light,
Where flower-spread fields are cheerful and bright,
Where the roses and lilies bloom all through the year,
And gardens are bath'd in a rare atmosphere.
There the scented magnolia sheds its perfume,
And its spiring pyramid whitens with bloom,
And the insects that live in the grass and the air
Invite ye a sumptuous banquet to share.
But the chickadee does not care to migrate,
She is chirping and carolling early and late;
Her sweet little chatter saluteth the day,
And trilleth till twilight fades into gray.
The chickadee hath plumage of brown,
And wears on its head a black little crown.
Its song is not querulous, but fluty the note
That in liquid cadences flows from its throat.
'Mid the foliage of summer it lurks in the woods,
Where it calls to its mate in the green solitudes,
But in winter it comes to our orchards to share
The larvae and seeds, its delicate fare.
Clad in soft downy plumage, the chickadee
Fears no cold in its nest in the hollow of tree:
And it comes to the garden to pick up the seed
The dear little children cast out for its feed.
As you walk in the grove on a calm winter day,
You may hear his sweet call from hedgerow and spray,
And with him the nut-hatch and creepers abide,
And downy woodpeckers, all painted and pied.
As you pass, all is still save their tremulous chime,
Or leap of the squirrels as the branches they climb,
The dropping of nuts, or flight of the quail,
Or whir of the partridge in tussock or swale.
O sweet little warbler, may nothing molest
The six snowy eggs that repose in your nest!
For the symphonies gentle your fledglings repeat
Make the life of boon nature in winter's retreat.