(An Exercise in Obsessive-Compulsiveness)

A Table of Their Frequency of Appearance in the Poems

 BIRD a   Wordsworth's Names   Family: Species   # of Poems   # of Lines   "Score" 
 1. Skylark   "skylark"; "Skylark"; "sky-lark"; "lark"; "Lark"; "larks"; "Larks"; "warbler"; "desert lark"c   Alaudidae: Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis)   27   150   285 
skylark.wav sound file
 2. Robin   "redbreast"; "Redbreast"; "red breasts"; "Robin"; "warbler of the ruddy breast"; "red-breast" c   Muscicapidae: European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)   16   202   282 
 3. Eagle   "eagle"; "Eagle"; "eagles; "Eagles"; "eagle-race"; "Bird of Jove"; "Bird of Rome"   Accipitridae: Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)   31   111   260 
 4. Swan   "swan"; "Swan"; "swans"; "Swans"; "mute swan"   Anatidae: Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) [or Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)?]   17   163   239 
 5. Thrush   "thrush"; "Thrush"; "thrushes"; "throstle"; "Warbler"; "Songster"   Muscicapidae: Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) [or Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)?]   20   106   206 
 6. Wren   "wren"; "Wren"; "hermitess"   Certhiidae: Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)   12   120   180 
 7. Owl   "owl"; "Owl"; "owls"; "owlet"; "Owlet"; "screech-owl"   Strigidae: Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) [espec. "screech-owl": or Tytonidae: Barn Owl (Tyto alba)?]   14   89   159 
 8. Cuckoo   "cuckoo"; "Cuckoo"; "Cuckoo-bird"   Cuculidae: Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)   10   106   156 
 9. Nightingale   "nightingale"; "Nightingale"; "nightingales"; "Philomel"; "songstress"d; "the melancholy"; "Philomela"c    Muscicapidae: Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)   17   70   156 
 10. Raven   "raven"; "Raven"; "ravens"   Corvidae: Common Raven (Corvus corax)   18   58   148 
 11. Domestic Fowl   "cock"; "Cock"; "cocks"; "fowl"; "domestic fowl"; "chicken"; "hen"; "Hen"c   Phasianidae: Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus)   17   60   145 
 12. Dove   "dove"; "Dove"   Columbidae: Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) [or Stock Pigeon (Columba oenas)? or European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)?]   15   47   122 
 13. Linnet   "linnet"; "lintwhites"   Fringillidae: Eurasian Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) [espec. "lintwhite": or Twite (Carduelis flavirostris)?]   12   32   92 
 14. Sparrow   "sparrow"; "Sparrow"; "little birds"; "little hedgerow birds"; "small mountain birds"; "vulgar coppice birds"; "little birds that peck"   Passeridae: House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) [or Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)?] [or generic small (brown) bird?!]   10   37   87 
 15. Bird-of-paradiseb   "bird of paradise"; "Bird of paradise"; "the Sun's Bird"; "Bird of Heaven"; "Bird of God"   Corvidae: ~~~~ Bird-of-paradise   3   50   65 
 16. Heron   "heron"; "herons"; "Heron"c   Ardeidae: Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)   6   19   49 
 17. Hawk   "hawk"; "Hawk"   Accipitridae: Common(?) Buzzard (Buteo buteo)   4   26   46 
 18. Swallow   "swallow"; "Swallow"; "swallows"   Hirundinidae: Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)   6   14   44 
 19. Kite   "kite"; "Kite"; "kites"; "glead"   Accipitridae: Red Kite (Milvus milvus)   6   13   43 
 20. Greenfinch   "Green Linnet"; "Linnet"   Fringillidae: European Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)   1   33   38 
 21. Rosella (Parrakeet)b   "Parrot"; "NON-PAREIL"   Psittacidae: Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius)   1   33   38 
 22. Stock Dove   "stock-dove"; "Stock-dove"   Columbidae: Stock Pigeon (Columba oenas)   4   14   34 
 23. Duck   "duck"; "Duck"; "wild-duck"; "night-duck"c   Anatidae: Mallard(?) (Anas platyrhynchos)   4   13   33 
 24. Ostrichb   "ostrich"; "Ostrich"   Struthionidae: Ostrich (Struthio camelus)   4   8   28 
 25. Nightjar   "dor-hawk"; "Dor-hawk"; "Night-hawk"c   Caprimulgidae: Eurasian Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus)   3   11   26 
 26. Rook   "rooks"; "Rooks"   Corvidae: Rook (Corvus frugilegus)   3   11   26 
 27. Gull   "sea-gull"; "sea-mew"; "sea-mews"; "Sea-mews"   Laridae: Mew Gull (Larus canus) [or Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)? (espec. "gull")] [or Common Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)? (espec. "sea-mew")]    3   10   25 
 28. Crow   "crow; "crows"   Corvidae: Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)   3   8   23 
 29. Peacockb   "peacock"; "bird of Juno"   Phasianidae: ~~~~ Peafowl   2   13   23 
 30. Turtle-Dove   "Turtledove"; "Dove"; "dove"   Columbidae: European Turtle-Dove (Streptopelia turtur)   1   17   22 
 31. Falcon   "falcon"; "falcons"   Falconidae: Peregrine(?) Falcon (Falco peregrinus)   3   7   22 
 32. Blackbird   "blackbird"   Muscicapidae: Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula)   3   6   21 
 33. Starlingce   "starling"; "Starling"   Sturnidae: Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)   1   15   20 
 34. Magpie   "magpie"; "Magpie"; "magpies"   Corvidae: Black-billed Magpie (Pica pica)   3   4   19 
 35. Blue Tit   "Blue-cap"   Paridae: Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus)   1   13   18 
 36. Sandpiper   "sand-piper"; "sand-lark"; "piper"c   Scolopacidae: Common(?) Sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucos) [espec. "sand-lark": or Dunlin (Calidris alpina)? or Charadriidae: Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)  1   13   18 
 37. Whip-poor-willb   "WHIP POOR WILL"; "Muccawiss"; "Whip-poor-will"c   Caprimulgidae: Whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus)   2   7   17 
 38. Woodcock   "woodcocks"   Scolopacidae: Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola)   2   6   16 
 39. Cormorant   "cormorant"; "cormorants"   Phalacrocoracidae: Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) [or European Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)?]   2   5   15 
 40. Pelicanb   "pelican"; "Pelican"c   Pelecanidae: ~~~~ Pelican   2   5   15 
 41. Bittern   "bittern"   Ardeidae: Great Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)   2   3   13 
 42. Buzzard   "Buzzard"   Accipitridae: Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)   1   8   13 
 43. Kingfisher   "halcyon"   Alcedinidae: Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)   1   8   13 
 44. Jay   "jay"; "Jay"   Corvidae: Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)   2   2   12 
 45. Stonechat   "stone-chat"   Muscicapidae: Common Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)   2   2   12 
 46. Bustard   "bustard"   Otididae: Great Bustard (Otis tarda)   1   5   10 
 47. Parrotb   "parrot"; "Parrot"c; "popinjay"; "Popinjay"c   Psittacidae: ~~~~ Parrot   1   5   10 
 48. Snipe   "snipe"   Scolopacidae: Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)   1   3   8 
 49. Bellbirdb   "bell-bird"   Tyrannidae: ~~~~ Bellbird   1   2   7 
 50. Cockatoob   "cockatoo"   Psittacidae: ~~~~ Cockatoo   1   2   7 
 51. Mockingbirdb   "Mocking-bird"   Sturnidae: Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)   1   2   7 
 52. Plover   "plovers"   Charadriidae: Common Ringed(?) Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)   1   2   7 
 53. Quail   "quails"   Phasianidae: Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix)   1   2   7 
 54. Swiftc   "swift"   Apodidae: Common Swift (Apus apus)   1   2   7 
 55. Wood Lark   "woodlark"   Alaudidae: Wood Lark (Lullula arborea)   1   2   7 
 56. Black Grouse   "heath-cock"   Phasianidae: Black Grouse (Tetrao tetrix)   1   1   6 
 57. Fieldfare   "fieldfare"   Muscicapidae: Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)   1   2   6 
 58. Loon   "Loon"   Gaviidae: Common(?) Loon (Gavia immer)   1   2   6 
 59. Osprey   "ospreys"   Accipitridae: Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)   1   1   6 
 60. Vultureb   "vulture"   Accipitridae: ~~~~ Vulture   1   1   6 
 a. Wild bird (generic)   "bird"; "Bird"; "birds"; "Birds"; "wild Bird; "wild birds"; "wild bird"; "fowl"; "fowls"; "tropic birds"; "Tropic Birds"c      46   170   400 
 b. Wild songbird / passerine (generic)   "bird"; "Bird"; "birds"; "Birds"; "small bird"; "small birds"; "little birds"; "little fowls"; "singing-bird"; "warblers"; "Warblers"; "songsters"   {Passeriformes} ["warbler": or Sylviidae: ~~~~ Warbler??]   48   152   392 
 c. Waterfowl (generic)   "water-fowl"; "Water Fowl"   {Anatidae}   3   83   98 
 d. Caged (song)bird (generic)b   "bird"; "Bird"; "singing-bird"; "Singing-bird"; "fondling"; "Indian bird"      5   35   60 
 e. Raptor (generic)   "bird of prey"; "birds of prey"      4   8   28 
 f. Nocturnal bird (generic)   "night-bird"; "the SEVEN WHISTLERS"      3   8   23 
 g. Gamebird (generic)   "fowl"   {Phasianidae}   3   7   22 
 h. Ocean waterfowl (generic)   "sea-fowl"      1   5   10 


a Header Notes: Under "Wordsworth's Names," generic references ("bird," "singer," etc.) aren't given, except for the generic categories at the bottom of the list; nor are possessives or hyphenated words such as "[x]-like," "[x's]-nest," etc. (All such references, though, are included in each bird's poem and line counts.) Under the "Family: Species" heading, "(?)" with a species name indicates it to be the most probable among a group of closely related   species; two or three possible species may also be given. Most vague is the "~~~~: [family or genus of birds]," indicating that not even a most likely specific species is assignable, and thus only a group name is given. Line-number count is approximate, due to subjective nature of determining exactly which lines of extended passages actually deal with the bird in question. Total "Score" is derived from the following, at last arbitary, formula, weighted towards the # of poem occurrences:
  Score = ([# of Poems] x 5) + # of Lines

b Literary or zoo/pet reference: a bird not native to England and probably not observed by Wordsworth in the wild.

c Occurs only in poem or poem variant not usually given in "standard" collections of Wordsworth's poems (i.e., poem in manuscript, note, correspondance, etc.).

d Or generic songbird, obviously; but all its uses in Wordworth seem to refer specifically to the nightingale. (Even Wordsworth's translation of "The Cuckoo and the Nightingale" changes the original "singer" to "songstress" at one point, in reference to the nightingale.)

e Only found in a "loose" translation or "version" of Catullus, but significant in that Wordsworth changes Catullus's famous sparrow to a starling.

METHODOLOGY: based on Cooper's Concordance and own perusal of poem texts: 5-vol. Oxford PW, Oxford Prelude (1805), and Cornell eds. of "Home at Grasmere"(Ms. D) and the "Salisbury" poems; significant "variants"--e.g., "The Ruined Cottage" and The Excursion, 1805 and 1850 Preludes, "Guilt and Sorrow" and "Salisbury Plain"--were considered as separate poems, except where passages were identical or closely parallel; ignored were translations (unless bird names changed significantly), poems in corpus by W.'s sister and others, Knight's poetic "reconstructions" from manuscripts; I also ignored "incidental" avian place-names [e.g., "springs of Dove"] and figurative uses of wings, flight, nests, etc. . . . line # count includes bird names found in "real," separate poem titles. . . . (Total Wordsworthian "Bird" Poems: 202; a detailed compendium of specific poems and lines available upon request. Finally, this provincial South Dakotan deduced this entire list mostly from European bird guides and a little from intuition: better guesses from those on the other side of the "big pond" are welcome: email me.)

Barrett, Charles.  Australian Bird Life.  Melbourne: Oxford UP, 1945.
Bewick, Thomas.  Selections from A History of British Birds [1797, 1804].  6th ed. [1826]
    New York: Paddington, 1976.
Catullus.  The Poems of Catullus.  Trans. Horace Gregory.  New York: Covici-Friede, 1931.
[Clanvowe, Sir Thomas?.]  "The Cuckoo and the Nightingale." The Chaucerian and Other Poems.
    Supplement to The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer [1894].   Ed. Walter W. Skeat.  Oxford: Clarendon, 1897.  347-358.
Cooper, Lane, ed.  A Concordance to the Poems of William Wordsworth.  London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1911.
Harrison, Thomas P.  They Tell of Birds: Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, Drayton.
    Westport: Greenwood Press, 1956.
Heinzel, Hermann, Richard Fitter, and John Parslow.  The Birds of Britain and Europe.
    Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1972.
Lockwood, W.B.  The Oxford Book of British Bird Names.  Oxford: Oxford UP, 1984.
Oxford English Dictionary.  2nd ed.
"The Sibley-Monroe Classification of the World's Birds."
     <http://www-stat.wharton.upenn.edu/~siler/birdframe.html> (1 Feb. 1998).
Tutin, J.R.  An Index to the Animal and Vegetable Kingdoms of Wordsworth.  Hull: J. R. Tutin, 1892.
Wordsworth, William.  The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth.  Ed. Ernest de Selincourt and Helen Darbishire.
    5 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1940-49.
Wordsworth, William.  The Ruined Cottage and the Pedlar.  Ed. James Butler.  Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1979.
Wordsworth, William.  The Salisbury Plain Poems of William Wordsworth.  Ed. Stephen Gill.
    Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1975.
Wu, Duncan.  Wordsworth's Reading: 1700-1799.  Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993.
Wu, Duncan.  Wordsworth's Reading: 1800-1815.  Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995.

Final Note: the info on this page was originally arranged as an appendix to my seminar essay on Wordsworth entitled "Melancholy Ornithologies: Wordsworth's Birds as Manic Recuperation."

  Note on PICTURES of 1st ten species: atrocious scans from Bewick's _English_Birds_, a book that Wordsworth owned.


Some Notable Bird-Reference Poems in Wordsworth:

"The Contrast. The Parrot and the Wren" [rosella, wren]
"The Dunolly Eagle" [eagle, domestic fowl, cockatoo]
"Evening Voluntaries V" ("By the Side of Rydal Mere") [linnet, thrush, rook, nightingale]
"Evening Voluntaries VII" ("The leaves that rustled on this oak-crowned hill") [owl, eagle]
"The Green Linnet" [126]: [linnet]
"Hark, 'tis the Thrush, undaunted, undeprest" [thrush]
"I heard (alas! 'twas only in a dream)" [swan]
"I know an aged Man constrained to dwell" [robin]
"In the Woods of Rydal" [robin]
"Liberty" ("Those breathing Tokens...") [skylark, eagle, caged songbird, nightingale]
"A Morning Exercise" [raven, owl, fowl, whip-poor-will, nightingale, skylark, kingfisher, bird of paradise, dove]
"Near Anio's stream I spied a gentle Dove" [dove]
"'O Nightingale! thou surely art'" [nightingale, stock dove]
"On Revisiting Dunolly Castle" [eagle]
"The Poet and the Caged Turtledove" [turtle dove, nightingale]
"The Redbreast. Suggested in a Westmoreland Cottage" [robin]
"The Redbreast Chasing the Butterfly" [robin]
"The Sailor's Mother" [caged songbird]
"The Sparrow's Nest" [sparrow]
"Suggested by a Picture of the Bird of Paradise" [bird-of-paradise]
"'Tis He whose yester-evening's high disdain" [thrush, nightingale]
"To --" ("'Wait, prithee, wait'") [dove, kite]
"To a Skylark" ("Ethereal minstrel! pilgrim of the sky") [skylark, nightingale]
"To a Skylark" ("Up with me! up with me into the clouds!") [skylark]
"To the Cuckoo" ("O blithe New-comer!") [cuckoo]
"To the Cuckoo" ("Not the whole warbling grove in concert heard") [songbirds, cuckoo, eagle, domestic fowl]
"Upon seeing a coloured Drawing of the Bird of Paradise in an Album" [bird-of-paradise]
"Water Fowl" [waterfowl]
"The Wild Duck's Nest" [duck]
"A Wren's Nest" [wren]
"'Yes, it was the Mountain Echo'" [cuckoo]

Note also the longer poems Descriptive Sketches, An Evening Walk, The Excursion, "Guilt and Sorrow," "Home at Grasmere," and The Prelude.


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First Created: 12/31/99
Last Revised: 4/15/07