Red Knot/Moonbird (Draw a Bird Day)

Birds need no maps of the earth,
no compass to locate the forces
that pull and repel.
Their geography is larger
than what can be painted, written down.
Their landscape is contained inside
their very bones,
invisible roots woven through
the air.

Birds move on currents
of sun sky wind and water–
alert to the pauses,
the imperfections
in the movement of the light.
They hear the world
as it slumbers, as it awakens,
as it waits.
They have no need to build bridges
for crossing over.

Birds don’t need to mark their path,
to provide proof
of their connection to the cosmos
with signs or constructs.
Who they are
is part of their being.
The way is within
the first cell of
the first song of
the first particle of
dust from the first star.

I recently read an article about the red knot B95, nicknamed Moonbird. B95 is a banded bird that was both trapped and photographed through 20 years of migration between the tip of South America, where it winters, and the Arctic, where it summers and breeds, a distance of 9000 miles each way. B95 traveled enough miles to go to the moon and most of the way back–hence, Moonbird.

Considering the fact that one half of juvenile red knots dies during their first year’s mirgration, that is quite an accomplishment.

Red knots are robin-sized shore birds that have greyish feathers during their southern winters, but grow red feathers for the summer layover in the Arctic. As recently as 1995 there were over 150,000 red knots making the north-south-north trip, but half of the adult red knot population died between 2000-2002 due to climate change and human intrusions on their habitat. Of particular concern was the reduction of the horseshoe crab population in the tidal waters of the Delaware Bay, an important last feeding stopover before the final flight to the Arctic. Red knots time their migrations to coincide with the yearly egg-laying of horseshoe crabs, feeding on the eggs laid on the beaches. Horseshoe crabs are important to many other species in the bay as well, and scientists are working to restore this vital component of the ecosystem, which was dying due to overfishing and overdevelopment.

Red knots fly in acrobatic groups and perform evasive movements in unison meant to confuse predators like hawks. How do they “know” where to go? One theory is that they have an internal genetic flight map, but they are also known to respond to the position of the sun and the movements of the stars as they often fly all night. Red knots may also recognize both landmarks and magnetic fields. No wonder they have been called “a flying compass”

Moonbird was last spotted in 2014, 19 years after he was first caught and banded.

Red knots were the first bird ever listed under the Endangered Species Act.

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About memadtwo

For more madness, follow me on Instagram @h_zimel methodtwomadness is a blog of two friends, Nina and Kerfe kblog is Kerfe's solo branch on the tree

39 responses to “Red Knot/Moonbird (Draw a Bird Day)”

  1. philgomm says :

    I love what the ‘pull of the paper’ is giving your impressionist image of the Red Knots in flight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. janetweightreed10 says :

    I love birds and I love this article with the accompanying illustrations. Beautiful :)X

    Liked by 1 person

  3. D. Avery @shiftnshake says :

    Wow! I love the poem and its consideration of the birds’ internal navigational systems. The information you included with your wonderful drawings was a fascinating read this morning. Thank you for all this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. boundlessblessingsblog says :

    Very informative and nice to know on these birds. Loved the poem too. Very good.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. robbiesinspiration says :

    I love your pictures, Kerfe. I also like birds and these are very pretty. Your poem is beautiful. I often think it must be nice to be free like a bird, although I know they are also driven by their version of need to survive.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. navasolanature says :

    A very beautiful poem, artwork and information. Birds are extraordinary.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ken / rivrvlogr says :

    Oh, to have that connection with nature.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Sun Hesper Jansen says :

    This bird and your tribute are thoroughly captivating. So many things I never knew before. And 19 years, wow. I have no idea of the average lifespan of a bird like this, but it seems extraordinary.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ingrid says :

    By turns fascinating and tragic: your poem captures the magic and freedom of this miracle of nature. It does make me wonder how such creatures can have this inherent wisdom and yet we believe we are more wise in all our wanton destruction.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. melaniereynolds says :

    I really like the first one, truly delightful!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jill Kuhn says :

    Your poem was thought provoking… I haven’t given this idea much thought about how birds know where to fly, etc. So interesting to think about… I liked all your drawings and interpretations of the Red Knot.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. jazzytower says :

    Hence the term ‘free as a bird’ I guess. Really like the poem and the art.


    Liked by 1 person

  13. msjadeli says :

    Kerfe, I see I’ve missed several of your posts. Not sure why they haven’t shown up in my newsfeed. Glad I followed one of your comments and saw this marvelous critter. I learned a lot from this post. I love the paintings. The one of them flying as a group, the white around them looks like energy or ripples from their wings. How a bird can make that journey and back each year still astounds.

    Liked by 1 person

    • memadtwo says :

      Thanks Jade. I really enjoyed the research on this bird. Astounding is right.
      I haven’t been posting much, although I hope to get something up today or tomorrow. I’ve been working and reworking some paintings, and trying to figure out a poem for them. One of those time bubbles where the hours whiz by but nothing gets done. The pandemic has been full of them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • msjadeli says :

        You’re very welcome. What is Draw a Bird Day and is it something you started? I would love to try to draw a bird and learn about it in the process. I’m glad to hear you’re making art, there is something comforting in that knowledge. Hoping the sunshine is visiting you there. It’s been sunny the past 2 days here, the snow is melting, AND the thermostats have been off during the day. We are getting there!

        Liked by 1 person

        • memadtwo says :

          There actually is an official draw a bird day, I think its the 8th of April. There were a few bloggers no longer active who started doing it the 8th of each month. I enjoy the monthly prompt to draw a bird, so I’ve continued it. A few people here and there still do it as well.

          We did get sun yesterday, but rain is coming back tonight, or a “wintery mix” as they like to say. My daughters and I met for a cold cup of coffee on Columbia campus on Sunday and saw a robin hopping through the snow!

          Liked by 1 person

          • msjadeli says :

            I will put the 8th in my calendar and try to join in on it. It’s good to have deadlines. Sorry for the mix but happy you’re still able to meet up with your daughters.

            Liked by 1 person

            • memadtwo says :

              The more birds the better I say. The girls and I can usually manage at least a half hour sitting out in the cold–we’ve missed a few weeks, but most Sundays we get together. It’s only a mile walk for me, but for my younger daughter it’s 2 1/2 miles. Sometimes her sister walks partway home with her though so she can get her walking in too–she’s the one in the middle.

              Liked by 1 person

  14. wolfsrosebud says :

    This post has it all… information, art and poetry. I love the bird. The texture in the piece was nice. Your poetry was so engaging.

    Liked by 1 person

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