This is one of my favorite poems. There's no interesting story behind it: I picked up a book for its cover (at a time when I wasn't accustomed to buying books of poetry) and it's stayed with me ever since.
Working with computers for long enough imposes a particularly systematic way of thinking. I like to be reminded there are others.
How to Know Birds
The place you’re in
The time of year
How they move and where in the meadows, brush, forest,
rocks, reeds, are they hanging out
alone or in a group or little groups?
Size, speed, sorts of flight
Quirks. Tail flicks, wing-shakes, bobbing –
Can you see what they’re eating?
Calls and songs?
Finally, if you get a chance, can you see their colors,
details of plumage – lines, dots, bars
That will tell you the details you need to come up with a name
You already know this bird.
This Present Moment (Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2015. p. 25)