a loud mouthed gathering
of white crested coral–
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.
hands threading needles
delicate like wings
flexible strong like branches
like rivers singing
ancient ancestral patterns
releasing through re
peating remembering re
vealing what was always there
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.
Atlantic Puffins are seabirds that breed in large colonies on cliffs or offshore islands along the North Atlantic coast of both Europe and America. When not breeding, they spend most of their time on the ocean.
Each time I look for information about the birds I draw, I find declining numbers, even if they are not yet endangered. Habitat destruction. Declining food sources. Overhunting.
Puffins are no exception. How to reverse these trends?
Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end. No magic formula to suddenly turn things around.
It’s a process. No moment exists when the fragility and interdependence of ecosystems reaches perfect balance, when humans can relax and ignore the repercussions of our behavior. We must remain always aware, always learning, always willing to make necessary changes to insure continuity. To keep the circle connected and alive.
I challenged myself to see if I could take Merril’s quote from Jo Harjo and do a prosery for dVerse. It actually fit the theme of Draw a Bird Day quite well.
“Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.”
Here’s some information about Atlantic Puffins:
–Their wings become flippers underwater. They are excellent divers and can reach depths of 200 feet.
–The hinges on their beak allow them to carry several fish at once.
–They have been observed using sticks as tools.
–Their nicknames are sea parrot or clown of the sea. Puffin chicks are called pufflings.
–Puffin colonies are referred to as a burrow, a circus, or an improbability.
–Puffins mate for life and often return to the same nest or burrow. They lay a single egg which both parents brood for several months.
–They spend the winter on the open ocean, rarely returning to land.
spread your wings
carry the night in
The eagle owl is both one of the largest and longest-lived owls. With wing spans up to 6 feet, it has no natural predators, although it is sometimes mobbed by crows. The leading causes of death– electrocution, hunting, and poisoning–are man-made.
Nesting on cliffs or rocky outcrops, it has a wide distribution throughout Europe and Asia. I love its binomial name–Bubo Bubo.
Eagle owls are solitary, territorial, and nocturnal. They can more often be heard, having a large number of vocalizations, than seen.
For Colleen’s #TankaTuesday, poet’s choice.
your flashy loud mimicry
a family trait
Continuing my explorations of the Corvid family, I decided to collage and draw a green jay this month. Residents of the Texas borderlands, they are also found in Central and South America. Like all corvids, they are intelligent, adaptable, brash, and have a large variety of vocalizations, including imitating the calls of hawks to drive away food competitors. They also use sticks as tools to pry bark up to get to the insects underneath.
Green jays live and forage communally, in family groups. The populations are currently stable, although habitat destruction is a concern, particularly in Mexico, and around the proposed border wall to be built through the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.
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
Birds move on currents
of sun sky wind and water–
alert to the pauses,
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.
flashes of yellow
Last fall my daughter and I were sitting on Columbia’s campus, talking and drinking coffee and tea, when we noticed a tiny yellowish bird looking for insects in a tree nearby. It looked a lot like the wood warbler I’ve drawn, above.
We didn’t see it well enough to positively identify it, but a birder friend suggested from my description that it was a warbler. Many species migrate through the area, in addition to common local residents like the yellow warbler.
The Blackburnian Warbler can also be found in New York, but I haven’t been lucky enough to see one. I would like to watch the intricate aerial dances they perform when protecting their territories.
I first drew the yellow warbler by itself, and scanned it, as backgrounds are always a problem for me. I’m still not sure about this one, although I like the colors.
give and take–
from both sides
Cedar waxwings are social birds, known to gather in large flocks for eating, where they can often be seen feeding each other. Their food sources include cedar cones, fruit, and insects, and they migrate in groups when all the local fruit, their favorite meal, has been consumed. They are also attracted to the sound of running water, and can be found bathing in both creeks and fountains.
A group of waxwings is called a “museum” or an “earful”–they can be quite loud.
I also posted about the cedar waxwing a year ago–a good December bird I think.
“True fellowship among men must be based upon a concern that is universal. It is not the private interests of the individual that create lasting fellowship among men, but rather the goals of humanity.” (Wilhelm)
“all I did was plant a seed…”—Pete Seeger
they called it Clearwater
build a boat
a replica of an 18th century Hudson River sloop
to save the river
they had a vision
if there’s something wrong
the river returned to its origins
free of contamination
realize that little things
sewage and toxic chemicals
lead to bigger things
fish would come back
get people together
humans could enjoy the river again
and they’ll act together too
fresh water without fear
italicized words from Pete Seeger
There’s so much wrong with the world–what can we do? Pete Seeger believed in working locally with the people in your community–what needs to be fixed? Realize that little things lead to bigger things.
Founded by Pete and Toshi Seeger, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc, has played a major role not only in cleaning up the Hudon River to allow both the river and the surrounding ecosystems to recover and flourish, but in pushing for judicial solutions to pollution everywhere in the United States.
Until I did a little research for this post, I did not realize that Clearwater’s opposition to the Storm King power plant led to the first court case to grant legal standing to environmental groups so that they could file lawsuits to protect the public interest. The NRDC and all organizations challenging the right of business and government to pollute or destroy ecosystems for profit began here–with the Clearwater. This is a tool whose value cannot be overestimated.
I used to frequently see the sloop sailing up and down the Hudson in the years I spent a lot of time in lower Riverside Park. It continues its mission with public education and helping people organize–and of course with music.
“Participation—that’s what’s gonna save the human race.”
The first collage/photo is from my Beach I Ching series. It seemed appropriate to this subject in many ways. The other art is from various things I’ve posted over the years.
This post was inspired by Sherry’s challenge at Earthweal this week: what happens to one, happens to us all.