Appleton’s Ellen Taylor is a poet and a professor at the University of Maine, Augusta. This week, she offers two poems in different moods about birds – one wild and the other domestic.


By Ellen Taylor

A hummingbird’s heart

beats 250 times per minute

when resting

and 1200 times while feeding.

A surprise can trigger

cardiac arrest,

as his tiny heart

cannot withstand

further stress.


I mourn

the ruby-throated juvenile

anxiously feeding in the phlox

this still September morning.

His whirring startled me

while I knelt to deadhead pansies –

I swatted at the sound,

and he fell.



By Ellen Taylor

How does she do it, create such perfect

spheres within her feathered body? Every

twenty-four hours she leaves us, still warm,

an umber shell, inside it a yolk, ochre

and richer than butter, nested in white clear

as rainwater. She coos and clucks with content.