The Bird Song
Download Midi File
Lesley Nelson-Burns

This song appears in Songs from the Hills of Vermont (1919). According to Southern Mountain Folksongs this song is probably derived from Child Ballad #26 (The Three Ravens). If it were originally a ballad it has lost its story. There is also a minstrel version Says the Blackbird that was once popular in America.

The bird is most commonly a blackbird, crow, woodpecker, redbird or robin; however, it also appears as a hawk, crane, bobwhite, hummingbird, owl, turtle dove, tomtit, and sapsucker. Several of the variants have comments on the fickleness of women and on pulling up corn.

Variants of the song include: The Hated Blackbird and the Crow, The Blackbird and the Crow, Said the Blackbird to the Crow, The Crow Song, Too Hoo, Says de Owl, and Sapsuck A-Sucking Up a Hollow Gum Tree.

This is directly related to The Birds Harmony, published in 1681-2. A later version The Bird's Lamentation was printed in 1681-2.

For a complete list of Child Ballads at this site go to Francis J. Child Ballads.

Hi! says the blackbird, sitting on a chair,
Once I courted a lady fair;
She proved fickle and turned her back,
And ever since then I'm dressed in black.

Hi! says the blue-jay as she flew,
If I was a young man I'd have two;
If one proved fickle and chanced for to go,
I'd have a new string to my bow.

Hi! says the little leather winged bat,
I will tell you the reason that,
The reason that I fly in the night
Is because I lost my heart's delight.

Hi! says the little mourning dove,
I'll tell you how to gain her love;
Court her night and court her day,
Never give her time to say "0 nay."

Hi! said the woodpecker sitting on a fence,
Once I courted a handsome wench;
She proved fickle and from me fled,
And ever since then my head's been red.

Hi! says the owl with my eyes so big,
If I had a hen I'd feed like a pig;
But here I sit on a frozen stake,
Which causes my poor heart to ache.

Hi! says the swallow, sitting in a barn,
Courting, I think, is no harm.
I pick my wings and sit up straight
And hope every young man will choose him a mate.

Hi! says the hawk unto the crow,
If you ain't black then I don't know.
Ever since old Adam was born,
You've been accused of stealing corn.

Hi! says the crow unto the hawk,
I understand your great, big talk;
You'd like to pounce and catch a hen,
But I hope the farmer will shoot you then.

Hi! says the robin, with a little squirm,
I wish I had a great, big worm;
I would fly away into my nest;
I have a wife I think is the best.

Additional Versions
Related Links
From Nursery Songs from the Appalachian Mountains, and
Southern Mountain Folksongs
See Bibliography for full information.