Wirds of Denver: Wandering Army

Not only does Denverite Marc Peacock Brush edit the esteemed online literary journal Wandering Army, he’s also a bird expert capable of recreating a whole menagerie of calls. So rather than have him prattle on about his English degree and why people don’t read poetry anymore, we picked his brain on one of our favorite subjects—BIRDS!

We should also mention that while it sounds like a cheap and frightening literary device, Peacock is his real middle name. As an infant, Brush was cared for by a stately flock of southern peacocks. They read a lot of Faulkner and drank many, many juleps together. Truly magical times.

So Marc, what’s something about peacocks that most people don’t know?

They’re everywhere. Especially in south-central Georgia. The name elicits quite a reaction in many regions of the country, but in Eastman, Ga., you can’t shake a stick without ruffling some Peacock’s feathers.

Peacocks are known to be industrious, headstrong, and good with their hands. Since I’m only half-Peacock, it’s no surprise that I’m rather lazy, bullheaded, and good with my fingers. I’m okay with the whole
hand, but fingers? Forget about it. Scored way above 99% on the tweezer dexterity aptitude test.


What’s something about warblers that most people don’t know?
They’re birds. A warbler is a type of songbird. A warbler is not a goldfinch.

If you ever see a Blue-winged Warbler up close, he’ll knock you flat, even at 10 grams.

Our state bird is the lark bunting. Do you feel as though this bird accurately represents Colorado, or is there another bird that would fit the bill (or beak) better?

What do you think? Lark bunting? I can barely contain my excitement.

Colorado is a grosbeak, something big and boxy and bold without pretense. The Evening Grosbeak comes to mind. That bird means beautiful business. Majestic as a mountain. I suppose the bunting captures our prairies and grasslands, but let’s not forget our winters and conifers. You know you’re in a good place when a flock of grosbeaks looks out at you from a lodgepole pine.


Where does your interest in birds come from, and how have you gone about cultivating your passion?

From the earth. From my eyeballs and ears. From Mr. Fred Atwood, whose love for the natural sciences remains infectious and inspiring.

I went to the Galapagos Islands and Ecuador with Mr. Atwood on field trips in high school. Also Trinidad and Tobago. Also birdbanding with mist nets in the woods behind Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va.

But the birds are everywhere present and singing, so it’s really not possible to not cultivate a passion for them. Right now there are house sparrows and house finches digging in the dirt outside my window. My neighborhood has a lot of flickers, and I see their tails splash white as my dog ambles by on our evening walks.

Get out of the city. Go for a walk. Look up. Voila.

What bird would make the best lover and why?

European Starling, sturnus vulgaris. They’re noisy, careless, and they’re everywhere.


What bird would make the best friend and why?

Any flycatcher. Flies are so annoying. What a gesture of friendship, to keep one consistently fly-free..

What bird would you never want to meet in a dark alley?

A hummingbird with night-vision goggles. The buzzing of those restless wings would be terrifying in the thick of night. You could madly swat at the sound, at the dark, and never have a chance of making contact. And then the needlepoint beak … it’s too haunting.

Is your cock really the size of a pea?

If by ‘cock’ you mean ‘heart’, and by ‘pea’ you mean ‘all the love in the world’, then yes.


Marc Peacock Brush performing an Eastern Screech Owl call