Dickinson's Birds

A listening machine

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Coordinates in the Archive-World

The Archives 

“Delight is as the flight –” —E. Dickinson, Fr317

Poem Archive

Poem Archive, Dickinson’s Birds

“In contrast to the things that sing / Not Birds entirely – but Minds –” —E. Dickinson, Fr1545B


The Poem Archive shelters 350 manuscript (MS) facsimiles representing over 230 poems composed by Dickinson and marked by the presence of birds. [1] 


Every poem gathered here appears on a virtual leaf that includes, whenever possible, a digital facsimile of its manuscript. Currently, only those manuscript leaves/surfaces containing writing are presented; a later iteration of Dickinson’s Birds will present all surfaces to enable a fuller visualization of each manuscript’s physical structure.

MS Dating

The dates assigned here derive pricipally from R. W. Franklin’s 1998 variorum The Poems of Emily Dickinson [2]. Since the Poem Archive is an archive of Manuscripts rather than Works, moreover, the dates assigned are to each manuscript witness of a given work rather than to the work itself—i.e., the manuscript of a draft will bear the composition date; the manuscript of a copy will bear the copying date; and the manuscript of a poem circulated to a recipient will bear the circulation date. When no manuscript is extant, but the poem is accessible in an early (C19) printed source, the date given is the date of its printing.

The temporal focus of this project—the importance of the seasons [3]—has led us to treat the dates assigned by Franklin in the following way: poems assigned to “late” in the year are assigned to fall; poems assigned to “early” in the year are assigned to winter.  We have not attempted to assign poems dated “first half of the year” or “second half of the year” to a specific season.


Headnotes identify the manuscript by archive catalog number and Franklin variorum number and offer information, when known, on the manuscript’s date of composition, copying, or circulation; its medium (ink, pencil, ink+ pencil); its state (draft, fair copy, fair copy–revised); its setting in Dickinson’s archive (bound; unbound); its paper type [4]; and its circulation status (retained or sent). In cases where a manuscript has circulated, the recipient/s is/are identified and further information about them reported. All manuscripts affiliated with a given poem are identified and linked. 

In addition to textual and bibliographical information, each poem is also accompanied by a list of the birds it names. In instances where a specific bird is identified, an audio file of the sound of the bird is included and a link to the Bird Archive enables further tracking of the bird both inside and outside Dickinson’s work and century. In instances where unnamed birds appear in a poem, a link opens to the Bird Archive as a whole.


In transcribing Dickinson’s poems our aim has been to render as precisely and accurately as possible in the typographic medium Dickinson’s orthography, punctuation, and physical line and stanza breaks, as well as the disposition of her writing across leaves and other surfaces. In carrying out this work we consciously engaged two vital reading traditions: the manuscript tradition in which Dickinson worked exclusively during her lifetime, and the print tradition in which her work was widely disseminated and read after her death. [5]

Our engagement with the manuscript tradition is registered in our inclusion—foregrounding—of the material faces of Dickinson’s manuscripts via digital facsimiles, and in our practice of transcribing directly from manuscript sources whenever possible. In those instances where Dickinson’s “bird” poems share space on a MS surface with other poems not referencing birds, and in cases where “bird” poems are embedded within letters and letter drafts, the entire MS is transcribed. When a “bird” poem is embedded in a longer text, a  “glow” effect in the transcription makes it readily identifiable.

Our engagement with the print tradition is reflected in our decision to prepare limited diplomatic transcriptions of these works rather than typographic facsimiles. Here we deploy typographical forms and editorial symbols for a clarity of presentation that, perhaps paradoxically, also highlights the non-identity of print and manuscript productions. 

Our transcriptions are presented on spectral panes that exist “behind” the facsimile images until called to the foreground by the reader. Like the C19 bird-blinds that were their inspiration, the panes are designed to convey our simultaneous sense of closeness and remoteness from Dickinson, her scene of writing, and her original authorial intentions. [6]

Searching the Poem Archive

Navigation in the archives of Dickinson’s Birds is designed to be intuitive, with every reader/seeker finding their own singular way among its offerings.

The default arrangement of the Poem Archive is alphabetical by first line. 

The chronology of Dickinson’s bird poems is discoverable via three search options: poem MSS dated to a certain year are searchable by year; poem MSS assigned to a specific season are searchable by season; and poem MSS assigned to a specific month are searchable by month. 

Alternate search parameters allow readers to curate the poems via their material setting in or beyond Dickinson’s private archive: Readers may search for bound (fascicle)  manuscripts; unbound manuscripts of three forms (those composed on bifolium sheets designated by R. W. Franklin as part of the “sets”; those on loose bifolium sheets or stray leaves; and those on ephemeral substrates, e.g., envelopes, fragments of paper bags, etc. ), and for circulated manuscripts by recipient/s. Searches by MS state (draft, fair copy, fair copy, with revisions); medium (ink, pencil, ink + pencil); and enclosures are also possible. Finally, users may search for manuscripts alluding to general and specific environmental phenomena and key avian behaviors.[7]

The search bar allows for exact phrase searches of the transcriptions of Dickinson’s poems; it also allows users to search by Franklin number, e.g., Fr359B.

For detailed information on the Poem Archive, including information on Sources and Editorial Symbols, see also Poem Archive Notes.

Bird Archive

Bird Archive, Dickinson’s Birds

“How do you know but ev’ry Bird that cuts the airy way, /Is an immense world of delight, clos’d by your senses five?”  —William Blake

The Bird Archive offers 349 files of the associated calls and songs of bird species inhabiting Amherst and the larger Connecticut River Valley in Massachusetts from C19 to C21. [8]

The Bird Archive offers data for three centuries: C19 data on the birds’ occurrence, arrival, and departure dates is drawn principally from H. L. Clark’s The Birds of Amherst &Vicinity, including nearly the whole of Hampshire County (1887). [9] In cases where data is not available in Clark, two additional sources—Ebenezer Emmons’s Birds of Massachusetts (1833) and J. A. Allen’s “Catalogue of the Birds Found at Springfield, Mass., with Notes on their Migrations, Habits, & c., together with a list of those birds found in the State not yet observed at Springfield” (1864)—have helped to partly fill in the record. [10] Together these lists mark the boundaries of the 19th-century’s formal knowledge of Western Massachusetts’s birds. Now cultural artifacts as much scientific records, they also bear witness to the habits of mind of the observers who made them in an era when Nature was still the Book of Nature. Emmons’s, Allen’s, and Clark’s often telegraphic notes marking, among other things, the first sightings of a bird in spring—“Bobolink. 4 April. Miss Morse” (Clark)—and the last glimpses of it in autumn leaving for its wintering range—“Passes south in November” (Clark)—are tiny archives of feeling, evidence of their entanglement in the meshwork. 

By the twentieth century, ornithology had evolved into a rigorous scientific discipline, a development reflected in the increasing breadth and depth of available data as well as in changes in the ways data was gathered and reported. While many fine sources were now available to us, we selected as our principal source of C20 data Aaron Clark Bagg and Samuel Atkins Eliot Jr.’s magisterial Birds of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts (1937). Unfolding over 800 pages and including entries on 268 species, this work offers a deep ornithological history of the region composed via the collation of more than a hundred years of observations recorded by earlier natural historians, including Emmons, Allen, and Clark. To the paratactic, sometimes incantatory presentation of names, dates, and sites in which a bird was observed, Bagg and Eliot add their own, thus inscribing themselves into the record of a world still balanced between subjectivity and empiricism: “Jan. 16, 1931, [a snowy owl] was sighted at sundown flying from Hadley Bridge southward: a huge, white bird flapping silently and low over the still white glistening fields against the purple of Mt. Holyoke in the fast-falling winter twilight” (314). First printed when the Passenger Pigeon Clark had called “common near Amherst” in the spring of 1888 had been extinct for almost a quarter century but also a full quarter century before the wide-spread cultural imagination of a silent spring would take hold, this major work is also a transitional work between two centuries that now seem lightyears apart. A later source, local to Amherst, Peter Westover’s Birds and Their Habitats in Amherst, Massachusetts with Complete Annotated List of Amherst Birds (1977), has also supplied information about the birds’ arrival, presence, and departure dates. 

C21 data on the birds’ occurrence, arrival, and departure dates derives from several sources: The Massachusetts Avian Records Committee State List; the Mass Audubon and the Mass Audubon Breeding Bird Atlas 1 Species Accounts; and Wayne R. Petersen and Brian E. Small’s Field Guide to Birds of Massachusetts (2017). For 21st-century data, we have also cast our net into the virtual environment, sifting resources including the Cornell Lab of Ornithology ( https://www.birds.cornell.edu/home) and Birds of the World (https://birdsoftheworld.org/bow/home).  

The Bird Archive is also a diachronic record of “Dickinson’s birds.” While the data from the nineteenth century, the very historical moment some propose as a late beginning of the Anthropocene, still suggested a Nature that, at least to its sleeping human observers, remained unchanging, the data from the twentieth century, collected largely between the Passenger Pigeon’s extinction and  Rachel Carson’s prophesy of a silent spring, made manifest a Nature in crisis. By the twenty-first century, the influx of vast datasets collected by autonomous radar networks scanning the skies at all hours of the day and night and recording incremental and irreversible losses makes manifest a new and urgent need to count and care for the least of things, for birds, for sparrow-data. [11] 

Searching the Bird Archive

“It is rare for a bird to leave evidence, even fleetingly, of how it has moved through the world.” —Tim Dee, A Year on the Wing

Bird files are searchable by species’ common names; presence in Amherst and the surrounding region during the 19th-, 20th, and 21st centuries; conservation status (when known) across these three centuries; and appearance on Dickinson’s ‘bird list’—i.e., the list we have constructed out of the wild songbirds she named in her poems.  

More detailed information on the birds, including notes on habitat, nest materials, and, in cases of birds named by Dickinson, local field notes, appears on the individual Bird Pages. Links on these pages allow users access to those manuscripts in Dickinson’s oeuvre linked with a specific bird species (“Affiliated Manuscripts”) and to “Further Data” from the primary C19, C20, and C21 bird lists we consulted for this project. From the individual Bird Pages users may also access sound files and spectrographs of the calls or songs of the birds.

For detailed information on the Bird Archive, including Sources, see also Bird Archive Notes.

Meshwork in the Archives

“The Flickering be seen –”  —E. Dickinson, Fr495

Environmental Phenomena in the Poem Manuscripts

Among other things, the Archives encourage our attunement to the ways in which Dickinson’s poems evoke the world(s) around her and to her complex, sometimes uncanny experience of emplacement. Our data mining  of the poems reflects their relationship to scale, place, motion, time, and sound. In addition to marking the poems’ direct allusions to Universe/s, World/s, and Nature/s, we report their references to specific Solar Bodies, Landforms, Flora and Fauna, Matter (organic and inorganic), Meteorological and Atmospheric processes, and Temporal increments (moments, hours, days, seasons, years) not experienced exclusively by humans but more generally in nature. These phenomena appear here in small data clouds streaming out beside the poem manuscripts. Like the variant word lists often found drifting below Dickinson’s poems, some of which appear as “collapsing glosses” of the poems, these clouds refocus our attention on the manifold data of the world flowing in and out of Dickinson’s works. They take the place traditionally reserved for transcriptions, which now open in another pane when accessed by users. 


Explorations of agency and alterity are at the very core of all of Dickinson’s writings and also at the core of these selected works: Everywhere in her poems we find “strange strangers”, sometimes colliding with one another, sometimes turning toward or into the other, sometimes just passing by each other without ever touching at all. Although we do not attempt to mark the infinite traces of “strange strangers” in these works for fear of domesticating their movements and revolutions in form, we hope that our tagging will lead readers ever more deeply into the complex meshwork of Dickinson’s world and the others that flicker within it. 

The Data Firmament

“And Firmaments – row –”  E. Dickinson, Fr124

At the heart of Dickinson’s Birds is the Data Firmament. In the Firmament, the data of a site-in-time—the atmospheric phenomena chronicled by nineteenth-century keepers of the Connecticut River Valley’s weather records; the calls and songs of the birds whose names were noted by natural historians traversing the region before ornithology was recognized as a science mixed with those more fleeting sounds composed by the Valley’s pre- and post-Industrial Revolution technologies; and the constellations made by Dickinson’s poems alluding to birds—are translated into visualizations and present sounds. The year is 1864.

Data Visualizations


Upon first opening the Firmament a horizon line appears, dividing the space into Day and Night, World and No-World. In the space above the horizon, a firmamental arc marks the upper limit of the archive-world’s expanse; below the horizon, an inverse shadow arc appears in the streaming dark that might scroll on forever. To activate the Firmament, the visitor taps the play-bar below just below the horizon line. Now a small glowing wheel materializes and begins its circuit across the seasons of the archive-world.

In the sky-screen above the horizon, the eternal “there is” of climate, time, and weather is indicated by the changing colors of the skies representing fluctuations in average monthly temperatures; by visual representations of the month’s dominant genres of clouds; and by the directions of the winds registered in the drift-patterns of the birds.  The measurements of rain and snow-fall are captured in line graphs running along the horizon line. And below the horizon line, night phenomenon—the fall of meteors, the glow of halos and the aurora borealis—flare briefly and randomly in the darkness. [12]  


Along with the weather, all of the birds known to have lived in or visited Amherst, MA in the nineteenth century exist in the sky-vault above the horizon line, with resident birds appearing in the lower sky of the firmament and migrants occupying the upper sky of the firmament and the free space above it. Three different icons represent, respectively, the “common”, “uncommon”, and “rare” bird species of the region, and the icons’ five graduated sizes suggest the birds’ relative masses—from lightest (just 2.9 grams) to heaviest ( 11,800 grams). [13] The flickering on and off of the icons of arriving and departing birds reveals the patterns of their nineteenth-century migration cycles. 


The birds share the sky with poems. In the sky above the horizon line, all of Dickinson’s “bird” poems, represented by the tiny “+”s (+ = Day World; + = Night World) she used to mark pressure points of variance in her work, appear in the season of their composition or copying, or, in the case of “sent” poems, the season of their circulation. While those poems that never left Dickinson’s private archive during her life shelter with resident birds above the horizon line but inside the upper arc of the sky-vault, those that circulated beyond that private archive share the realm occupied by the migrating birds, high in the firmament and sometimes breaching its upper arc. Poems that cannot be assigned to a season, but to a year only—or to no year at all—appear in the streaming dark below the horizon, with those retained by her within the bounds of the inverse shadow arc and those sent out of her archive falling outside it. 

Together in the Firmament of the Archive-world, poems and birds compose new, uncharted constellations.

Data Soundings

Choirs and Soundways

The wheel’s circuit across the firmamental arc also stirs the sounds of nineteenth-century Amherst—or, rather, the descendants of those sounds captured by recording technologies from the twenty-first century—from the silence into which they have sunken in our collective unconscious, stirring too something akin to our memory of another world where all still seemed well and where the sound of the Anthropocene was still a sub-sub song in the bright Book of Nature. 

“In sound I am in depth,” writes phenomenologist Salome Voegelin. [14] In the Ring’s twelve tracks sounding the months of the year, each month sounds for a duration of two minutes, each season for six, and a year’s revolution sounds in just twenty-four, the number of hours in a solar day. Visitors may choose to listen to the year without interruptions; or, they may move the wheel back and forth along the firmamental arc to listen to any point in the year. 

In our first attempt to access—and make accessible—the auditory imaginary, the deep and buried sonic networks of a possible past world heard by Dickinson, we created what we now call “data choirs.”  To compose a data choir for a given month involved first sampling the calls and songs of every bird observed in that temporal zone by nineteenth-century natural historians of the region, then applying an algorithm based on those same natural historians’ classifications of a given bird as “common,” “uncommon,” or “rare/accidental” to determine the duration of each bird’s sounding and the interval between soundings. Like the earliest analog recordings made by nineteenth-century field researchers of the voices of isolated wild species, the birds of the data-choirs sound only in the anechoic chamber of their own inner worlds, sans all cultural references as well as all other environmental sounds. Yet also like the early analog recordings, the apparently “pure” sound of the choirs is the sound of the data of the world captured and distorted by the technologies—now digital—of our creation. Jarring, beautiful, alien, the sound of the data-choirs registers as at once something that exists forever in the mind of Nature and as no sound ever made on Earth. 

[Data Choir: December] [Data Choir: January] [Data Choir: February] [Data Choir: March] [Data Choir: April] [Data Choir: May] [Data Choir: June] [Data Choir: July] [Data Choir: August] [Data Choir: September] [Data Choir: October] [Data Choir: November]

In our second foray into sounding the past we changed tactics. The final audio files accompanying the Data Firmament were produced not via the application of the algorithm of the Data Choirs but rather by our curation—our speculative commingling—of nineteenth-century accounts of bird sounds and weather found in the fragmentary records left by the region’s early naturalists with our own present, affective experience of these sounds in the lower atmosphere. Initially imagined as “scapes,” we later re-conceived the acoustic meditations we were composing as “ways” to evoke something of their mobile, wandering nature, their temporal plurality, and their ontological openness.

Both sets of sound files enjoin us to dwell in depth, in the life-of-things through the sound-of-things; both, moreover, seek to open in the sonic subject a lively wonderment about the world. Yet while the data-choirs accomplish this end by sounding our estrangement from “time” and “nature,” the sound-ways do so by proposing our intimate, if necessarily partial and transient enmeshedness in both. Here the sound-ways are accompanied by spare narratives—”Liner Notes”—documenting, at times harmonizing, the peregrinations of a human listener inside the seasons of weather and birds and poems. Since in the Firmament the relations between and among weather and birds and poems cannot be conceived and plotted in advance of our encounters with them, in place of a positivistic cartography of the listener’s passage across space and time, the liner notes offer a sense of their fluctuating attunements to a sound-world somewhere outside Dickinson’s west-facing writing windows. 

Fathom measure. Measure fathom.

In the end, while the Firmament seeks to disseminate the bare data and sonic fragments of birds and weather and poems from 150 springs ago, it never offers a documentary sense of place. Instead, the momentarily re-wilded birds and poems and weather events of the Firmament are fleeting guides to a chaology of orders, coordinates of a moving, numinous, extensional world evacuated on “billows of circumference” before we ever fully get our bearings. If, in moments, the Firmament unfurls galaxies of birds and poems moving in the perfect meters and measures of a lost past world, so at others it fathoms the ecological distances and utterly changed meters between Dickinson’s world and our own.  In the entropic space of the Firmament, we gain a sudden intuition of the long durée in which the the smallest, most vulnerable, and most ephemeral of things—poems and birds, thoughts and sounds—attain their infinity in the moment of their de-archivization and a heightened experience of the present moment in which our finger-falls onto a keyboard are part of the manifold and ephemeral data of the world we listen to and create.

For a Key to the Data Firmament and Liner Notes to the Sound-ways, see Firmament Notes.


[1] The following eleven poems, identified by Jefferey Simons as connected with Dickinson’s lyric ornithology, are not included in dickisnonsbirds: Fr. 1 (juvenilia; outside the temporal boundaries of the archive); Fr 90 (the reference is to a domestic bird: Chanticleer, not a wild bird); Fr 198 (the reference is to a nest only); Fr 1019 (only an implied or ancillary reference to bird); Fr 1182 (only an implied or ancillary reference to bird); Fr 1352 (only an implied or ancillary reference to bird); Fr 1368 (only an implied or ancillary reference to bird); Fr 1408 (only an implied or ancillary reference to bird); Fr 1470 (only an implied or ancillary reference to bird); Fr 1577 (only an implied or ancillary reference to bird); Fr 1603 (only an implied or ancillary reference to bird). See Jefferey Simons, “Dickinson’s Lyric Ornithology,” Emily Dickinson Journal 28.1 (2019): 1-22. We hope that a later iteration of this work will include all of Dickinson’s writings alluding to birds.

[2] R. W. Franklin’s 1998 The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Variorum Edition, 3 vols. (Cambridge, MA & London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press) is the principal source for the dates assigned to Dickinson’s poems. Dates in the variorum—and in this gathering—are to manuscript witnesses rather than works, and mark the composition, copying, or circulation date of the particular manuscript. Manuscripts are generally dated to years and, when possible, to season, months, and (rarely), days. While it is possible to positively date a significant number of manuscripts, for many others the dates assigned are likely but not definitive; in these cases the date is marked as “c.”. In those cases where Franklin has assigned a date of “first half of the year” or “second half of the year,” we have dated it to the year only.  In addition to Franklin’s variorum, we have drawn on Miller and Mitchell’s The Letters of Emily Dickinson (Cambridge & London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2024). Miller and Mitchell’s careful re-dating of manuscripts is reflected in Dickinson’s Birds. 

[3] Seasons in the Poem Archive are defined as follows: spring=March, April, May; summer=June, July, August; fall=September, October, November; winter=December, January, February. Manuscripts dated by Franklin to the “second half” of a given year are marked as belonging to either “summer” or “fall”, depending on internal and external evidence, while manuscripts dated by Franklin to the first half of a given year are marked as belonging to either “winter” or “spring”, also depending on additional internal and external evidence. 

[4] R. W. Franklin’s 1986 The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson, 2 vols. (Cambridge, MA & London, England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press) is the most comprehensive source of information on Dickinson’s paper types in the fascicles and the unbound bifolium sheets. Jay Leyda’s cataloging notes in the Amherst College Library are also a valuable source for information on paper. Jen Bervin’s recent research on Dickinson’s papers will add significantly to our knowledge of Dickinson’s material productions. One long-term goal of our project is to update information on Dickinson’s papers through additional archival research.

[5] The advent of new technologies of digital reproduction makes possible the representation of elements from both the manuscript and print traditions but does not necessarily collapse the distance between them. We gesture towards this nascent tradition in our use of just one hand-drawn element—the boundary lines found in Dickinson’s manuscripts—in our typographic transcriptions. Here, two stylized forms only of line are used.

[6] We are always seeing the manuscript not only through the veil of print but also under the horizons of the many scholarly editions of her work — Todd, Johnson, Franklin, Smith and Hart, Werner, Werner and Bervin, Miller, Miller and Mitchell, etc.—with their accreted editorial choices and conventions. In the print tradition, R. W. Franklin’s 1998 variorum—a culminating act of scholarship—currently exerts the most influence on editors and readers. This is not because the Franklin variorum perfectly discerns the physiognomy of Dickinson’s manuscripts and translates the signs and marks inscribed on them as Dickinson intended—how could we ever even know for sure what she intended?—in a new medium, but, rather, because he evolves a rigorously consistent internal system for representing these various marks and signs within the editorial (and print) horizons it defines. As a result. Franklin’s transcriptions have been naturalized in the reader’s mind—so much so that even the reader who turns their eyes upon the manuscript after years of reading in print sees the clear letter forms and punctuation of that edition in place of Dickinson’s more various ambiguous forms.

[7] Jefferey Simons (Department of English Philology, University of Huelva) gifted his research materials for his essay “Dickinson’s Lyric Ornithology” to this project. The exquisite notes on the avian behaviors described in Dickinson’s poems are his distinctive contribution to this archive. His essays on Dickinson have appeared in European Journal of American Studies (2017), The Emily Dickinson Journal (2019), and Amerikastudien / American Studies (2020). Other essays on the poetry and prose of James Joyce have appeared in Joyce Studies Annual (2002, 2013, 2018), European Journal of English Studies (2007), Genetic Joyce Studies (2010), and James Joyce Quarterly (2014).  

[8] All bird sounds and sonographs come from the archive xeon-canto.org (www.xeno-canto.org),  a website for sharing recordings of wildlife sounds from all across the world started in 2005 by Bob Planqué and Willem-Pier Vellinga and  maintained by a small team of admins (Bob, WP, Sander Pieterse, Jonathon Jongsma and Rolf de By) with crucial assistance from Naturalis Biodiversity Center, especially Ruud Altenburg, and all of the xeno-canto community. Xeno-canto is run by the Xeno-canto foundation (or officially Stichting Xeno-canto voor natuurgeluiden), a charity (Dutch “ANBI”) from the Netherlands.Weather sounds and sounds from the anthrophony were collected from open sources online or recorded by us.

[9] Clark’s list incorporates data from the 1880 lists made by another Amherst resident, W. A. Stearns, whose annotated list of the birds of Amherst was published in The Amherst Record: June 13, July 11, 18, 25, and August 8, 1883. Since Dickinson only ever used the common names for birds in her poems, many of whom exist in multiple species, a given bird’s identification in her work remains unsettled. In these cases, which include Blackbirds, Cuckoos, Eagles, Orioles, Owls, Plovers, Sparrows, Swans and Wrens, we have included as possibilities all species listed by H. L. Clark in The Birds of Amherst & Hampshire County (1887).

[10] Emmons’ 1833 record, published in that year in Edward Hitchcock’s “Report on the Geology, Minerology, Botany and Zoology of Massachusetts,” identifies 160 bird species in Massachusetts. The original MS was described as “written by Professor Emmons, in ink, in a small and cramped hand, and cover[ing] seven pages of foolscap” by Ruthven Deane (see The Auk 18.4 [1901]: 403-05.).  Allen’s 1864 Catalogue of the Birds found at Springfield, Mass., with notes on their Migrations, Habits, etc.; together with a List of those Birds found in the State and not yet observed at Springfield, originally printed in the September issue of the Proceedings of the Essex Institute at Salem, Vol. IV, No. 2, greatly extends Emmons’ record, contributing notes on 296 species of birds he identified in the State. Given Springfield’s geographical proximity to Amherst, Allen’s notes on the 195 birds he observed in this location are especially salutary.

[11] In the last fifty years, almost 30% of all North American birds have disappeared, with extensive losses in bird populations from every habitat (link). The Cornell Lab’s BirdCast project, for example, currently scans the night skies via the Nexrad radar network, conjuring localized bird-migration forecasts via a fusion of machine learning, cloud computing, and big-data analytics. 

[12] Since fluctuations of atmospheric events in the Northern Hemisphere vary from year to year, the data from 1864—the year when the weather of Dickinson’s work alters forever—represents the constant inconstant conditions of the climate.

[13] The icons for birds in the Data Firmament appear in five sizes to suggest this range: 1) 2.9–9.7 grams; 2) 9.8–27.8 grams; 3) 28–178 grams; 4) 179-5974 grams; 5) 11,800 grams.

[14] Salome Voegelin. Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art. (London: Continuum, 2010), 133.