A Question About Birds

I am going to sit on a rock near some water
or on a slope of grass
under a high ceiling of white clouds,

and I am going to stop talking
so I can wander around in that spot
the way John James Audubon might have wandered

through a forest of speckled sunlight,
stopping now and then to lean
against an elm, mop his brow,

and listen to the songs of birds.
Did he wonder, as I often do,
how they regard the songs of other species?

Would it be like listening to the Chinese
merchants at an outdoor market?
Or do all the birds perfectly understand one another?

Or is that nervous chittering
I often hear from the upper branches
the sound of some tireless little translator?

Billy Collins