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Blue Tailed Bee Eater (draw a bird day)

bridge of wings
joyful rainbow dance
skysinging
feathered light
into fields of energy
embodied spirit

Bee eaters are, not surprisingly, often called rainbow birds. The blue tailed bee eater is a resident of South and Southeast Asia, preferring open habitats near water. Like swallows, they eat insects on the wing, especially bees, wasps, hornets, and dragonflies. During breeding season they also eat shells and sand for calcium.

Bee eaters live in extended families of up to four generations in complex social systems of 100-200 birds. Known for their cooperative behavior, they build their nests in tunnels in sand banks, alternating between being breeders and helpers from season to season. This ensures that more chicks survive to adulthood.

Once again I’ve used Colleen’s #TankaTuesday #Taste the Rainbow prompt to write a shadorma about this beautiful and colorful bird.

Swallows (Draw a Bird Day)

one by one
you join the wire—sit
twittering,
gabbing—rest
until a sudden pull forms
a merging with air

ruly dance
of animation–
swooping up
to slip down
in unceasing waves, scattered
between rhythmic tides

you spend your
life aloft, brushing
the berm of
watery
landscapes–embodied spirits,
wandering and free

Our beach bird this year was the swallow–bank swallows, which nest in banks and sandy cliffs, and purple martins, which use cavities created by other animals or in buildings, or increasingly, nesting boxes provided by humans. Native Americans were the first to hang gourds to attract these birds.

They would gather in the mornings on the wires, chattering away, and then suddenly take to the air, feeding on insects and gathering moisture, until they returned to the wire to begin the process again. They also chirped on the wing, providing a constant background of bird noise.

Bank swallows, especially, are extremely social birds, and are seldom seen alone.

There are over 90 species of swallows, and they are found all over the world. In many places they are harbingers of spring.

They frequently reside near water, hunting insects on the wing, and migrating to follow insect populations. American swallows breed in North America and winter in the South American summer.

The feet of swallows are adapted for perching and they are seldom seen on the ground. Some species are endangered due to habitat loss.

My shadorma chain uses some of the Oracle 2 words generated by Jane this week.

Venezuelan Troupial (draw a bird day)

loud and clear
whistles penetrate far–
inside a dry tropical forest,

a bird sings perched upon a cactus–
under a clear sky, sun relentless–

orange, black, wings flash white when aerial–
kin to the oriole–
troupial

The Venezuelan Troupial is the national bird of Venezuela. Besides that country, it is found in Columbia and on some Caribbean islands. A relative to the oriole, its feathers stick out unevenly, often making it look ruffled. The troupial like to perch on high visible places to sing. They eat insects, fruit, and small birds and eggs.

Native to coastal desert scrub and thorn forests, they prefer arid lands, although they have proven quite adaptable to other ecosystems. Who knew there were cactii in Venezuela? Above is a photo from Mochima National Park.

The Venezuelan Troupial is a nest pirate, often poaching nests and driving off the original residents when they can’t find a suitable abandoned one to adapt to their own needs. They are not considered endangered, though some of their habitats are, and they are also captured to be sold as cage birds.

I had a lot of trouble focusing to work this week, and was not wholly satisfied with any of my drawings, but I do think the cactus one captures the personality of this bird fairly well. I keep reminding myself of the drawings of Matisse, who was always rearranging his lines, and letting the errant ones remain to show where he had been.

My poem, for Colleen’s #tastetherainbow Tanka Tuesday challenge is in the Trois-par-Huit form, which you can read about here.

Tiger Shrike (Draw a Bird Day)

the spirits of the places
I move through
appear as birds–

residents of sidewalks,
street trees, roofs, parks–
the spirits of the places

stopping me, waiting for me
to acknowledge them as
I move through

thinking of someone I’ve lost–
as if they had suddenly
appeared as a bird

It would be very unusual to spot a tiger shrike in New York City, as they reside in wooded habitats in eastern Asia, and are quite shy. But if you did, that would be the male with the mask. The female has more more subtle coloring, which makes the eye appear larger.

Like all shrikes, they used their sharp hooked beaks to impale their prey–insects, small birds, lizards, rodents. They are not considered threatened, although populations are declining.

My cascade is a (belated) response to Brendan’s discussion at earthweal about spirits of place. I’ve felt spirits in certain of my residences, although I haven’t stayed in many places long enough to establish a relationship. But everywhere I go in the city I find birds.

Birds are considered in many cultures to be a bridge between the human and spirit worlds. I know I’m not the only person who has wondered if someone I’m missing sometimes visits me in the form of a bird.

Striped Owl (Draw a Bird Day)

sometimes in dreams I
remember a time when my spirit was
lifted by stars, silent
as a secret, and then
suddenly moonbound dark and
luminous–everything felt
ancient and reawakened—like the
hushed feathered womb of owl
wings singing in a windswept quaver

Another orange and black bird for the Year of the Tiger. The striped owl is found in Central and South America, inhabiting savannas and semi-open grasslands.

My poem is another Golden Shovel, with lines extracted from Arthur Sze’s wonderful poem “The Owl”. I’ve used it before as inspiration, and probably will again.

And I’m sure owls will show up, as they have before, on Draw A Bird Day as well.

Rufous Treepie (Draw a Bird Day)

In your native landscape
they call you taka chor
always wanting more, more–
objects, glitter

Filling trees with loud calls,
attention-seeking mein–
to be both heard and seen–
crow to the core

The rufous treepie, a long-tailed bird native to India and southeast Asia, is known locally as taka chor, or “coin stealer”. Like all corvids, it loves shiny objects, and has no misgivings about taking anything that catches its eye.

Also, like all crows, it will eat pretty much anything, and is intelligent, adaptable, and opportunistic.

Primarily arboreal, it feeds mostly among the forest cover, and will often hunt with other bird species to flush out more insects from the trees. As its woodland habitat decreases, however, it has learned to live in urban parks and yards, and has no problem eating discarded human food or road kill, if that’s what’s available.

I chose the rufous treepie while looking for orange and black birds in honor of the Year of the Tiger. That may be my bird theme for the year–there are many to choose from.

The poem is an abhanga for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. Appropriately, an Indian poetic form.

The top bird was done with brush and ink, the middle one is neocolors, and the bottom one is colored pencil with ink outlines–I found a feather quill pen I bought years ago in a box. It’s a bit tricky to use, and I’m out of practice. But I enjoyed working with it again.

draw a bird day: chicken music

cock-
a doo-
dle-
do cluck
cluck buk buk
kuh-kuh-
kack
ba-gawk
tuk buk tuk-
king rrrrrrr chirp peep-
ing chirp
trill errrr
cack-
le chir-
rup squawk crow
caaaaaw cock-
a-
doodle-
do

The last Kick-About prompt was a video of a dancing chicken from Herzog’s film Stroszek. I first decided to draw while watching the video on a roll of rice paper that I had. My photos did not show up that well, but Phil Gomm kindly inverted color and ground and made the lovely images above.

I really like drawing chickens, and so I did a neocolor image. Then I decided to do some monoprint outlines based on my original drawings.

The outlines were fine, but my attempts to print colors on top were not as successful, so I ended up painting over them. One thing I really like about the Kick-About prompts is that it challenges me to try lots of different things.

For the poem, inspired by David’s Waltz Wave sound poem at the skeptic’s kaddish, I did some research on chicken sounds. It turns out there are many online threads about this subject, as so many people are now raising their own chickens and are delighted by their vocalizations.

And so many beautiful and varied breeds! I’ve done chickens several times before, and I’m sure there will be more for some future Draw a Bird Day as well.

I’m taking a break for a few weeks…enjoy the rest of your summer!

August 2021

the wheel turns–
we follow our tides
balancing

between waves
ebbing and flowing
together

Instead of a grid or circle collage this month, I decided to use this embroidery that I just finished. I signed up for a series of video embroidery instruction courses–every two weeks there’s a new one, with new ideas and techniques to learn. That was 2 months ago, and I’ve only just finished the first one…

This was a course on Indian embroidery motifs and techniques given by Saima Kaur. We were to choose a few bright colors and a bright background fabric, with perhaps the addition of black and/or white. My satin stitch has always been sloppy and I thought this would give me plenty of practice for improvement. I can’t say it improved much, though, and I also now know for sure that I don’t enjoy doing satin stitch that much. I did like the long and short stitches I used on the shells, and will use that again.

I love traditional art and the motifs of Indian folk art are rich and full of symbolism. This design is a distilled variation of common figures and themes seen both in Indian art and in traditional and religious art all over the world.

Galah Cockatoo (draw a bird day)

galah–
colorful clowns,
a loud mouthed gathering
of white crested coral–
life indwelling
wild, full

A Badger’s hexastitch for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday and Draw a Bird Day.

Galah cockatoos are native to Australia, where they live in large flocks on open grasslands feeding on seeds, berries and insects. But they also can be seen in urban settings, where their raucous calls and adaptations to human habitation are often considered nuisances. The word galah means fool or clown in the Aboriginal language of Yuwaalaraay and is used as such as a derogatory term in Australia (or so the internet tells me…any Australians reading this can confirm or deny)

Cockatoos are highly social and intelligent, and are bred and sold as pets. But these very traits make them not only very high maintenance, but possibly destructive and dangerous. I’ve written about this before–these animals should not be confined and separated from the flocks that are their natural social groups.

inheritance

hands threading needles
accumulating stitches
delicate like wings
flexible strong like branches
like rivers singing
ancient ancestral patterns
releasing through re
peating remembering re
vealing what was always there

seeds growing
anonymous roots
flowering

For Colleen’s #TankaTuesday prompt, a Chōka. Jules provided the theme of discovery.

I come from a family where all the women were textile artists of some sort–sewing, quilting, knitting, crocheting, embroidery–my grandmother even worked as a hat maker before she was married. My mother started me embroidering at a young age, and we did the bird kits, above, together. She loved the color red and cardinals, so that was hers; I stitched the blue bird. And I discovered how much I loved embroidery.

My mother never had the confidence to do her own designs, but always encouraged me in my own explorations. I think of her, and all the women in my family, every time I pick up a needle.