Poems by Daniel Hudon

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The Extinction Stories: Orange Band, The Last Dusky Seaside Sparrow

by Daniel Hudon

From Canary Spring 2014

Daniel lives on the East Coast, not far from various nesting sites of the endangered piping plover in the Charles watershed.

In the jar, all is quiet. It can’t hear anything. No traffic, no mosquitoes, no rockets blasting off to the moon. The air is pure though sadly, the wind never blows. The marsh is long gone. Its blind eye lies open, unseeing in its green glossiness. Its head is pressed against the bottom of the jar, yellow beak closed, mottled feathers tussled. Just an ounce of bird, the few notes of its song unsung. A tag on its claw reads:

Dusky "Orange"
Last one
Died 18 Jun 87

© Daniel Hudon



The Extinction Stories: The Ivory-Bill Woodpecker

by Daniel Hudon

From Canary Fall 2013

You had to go scouting deep into the swamps and river bottomland woods that once spanned the deep South if you wanted to glimpse the largest woodpecker of North America. Famous as a recluse, the splendid Ivory-bill woodpecker has been described as “nature’s exclamation point, the personification of pizzazz – a full-throated yell of a bird.” Such was its size and majesty that sightings typically inspired exclamations of “Lord God!” and this became one of its nicknames, The Lord God Bird.

Black bodied with a white racing stripe that ran down its head and neck along its back, the Ivory-bill had a gleaming yellow eye and was topped with a brilliant scarlet crest. Nearly two feet long from head to tail, it hopped up and down the sides of cypresses and hackeberries in search of a place to pound its three-inch long bill into the bark for grubs of the long-horned beetle, its favorite food. Its call was tinny but extraordinarily loud, “like someone blowing into a megaphone with the mouthpiece of a clarinet, blasting out single notes that could be heard half a mile away.”

How far did it roam for food? Did it have enemies? What were its courtship rituals? Did pairs mate for life? The high profile sightings couldn’t answer these questions.

With its numbers dwindling due to logging, the State of Louisiana finally began to manage the last remaining habitat of the Ivory-bill woodpecker in the early part of the 20th century. However, the logging rights to the land were held by the Chicago Mill and Lumber Company who refused to deal. “We are just money grubbers,” said James F. Griswold, the chairman of the board for Chicago Mill. “We are not concerned, as are you folks, with ethical considerations.”

When the land was logged in the 1940’s, the charismatic Ivory-bill woodpecker went with it.

© Daniel Hudon



The Extinction Stories: The Labrador Duck

by Daniel Hudon

From Canary Winter 2013-14

Little is known of the Labrador Duck. Its breeding and mating habits, migration routes, nesting and biology all went unstudied. Perhaps they nested on small, rocky islets off the coast of Labrador. Or perhaps on islands of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. No one described the call of the species.

It was known to taste poorly, with a strong flavor of shellfish. Its bill was colorful: orange with a blue-black tip. The males had a striking black body with black and white wings, a white neck and head topped by a black patch. The female was gray-brown, had white on her wings and a light line behind her eye.

Naturalists disagree on whether the bird was trusting or wary. And whether the last one was shot in 1871, 1875 or 1878.

© Daniel Hudon