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Honeycreepers (Draw a Bird Day)

“The forests are getting silent”
–Hanna Mounce, Maui Forest Bird Recovery

extinction–
always more words, less
habitat–
repeated
hollow justifications–
vast human wasteland

Eight birds from the Hawaiian Islands were on the official extinction list released by wildlife officials last week. Honeycreepers, descended from finches, are only found in Hawaii and have been losing species ever since explorers started bringing in invasive animals and diseases and destroying habitat in order to profit from the land.

Almost all the remaining honeycreepers are endangered. Besides their visual beauty, they pollinate native plants and keep insect populations under control.

Mosquitos, which are not native to the islands and arrived in the early 1800s, are one of the biggest dangers. They are hard to control and impossible to eliminate. The Avian Malaria and Avian Pox they brought has decimated the lower forest dwelling birds. As honeycreepers have retreated to higher elevations, climate change has followed them, raising the temperatures of the upper forests to levels that mosquitos can tolerate. The Maui Forest Recovery Project is working to save forest habitats and the plants and animals that live in its unique ecosystem.

I’ve written a shadorma this week for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday, poet’s choice.

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.

Atlantic Puffins (Draw a Bird Day)

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.

Ibis (Draw a Bird Day)

ibis
graceful, silent
keeper and creator
measuring magic by the moon
Thothbird

For Colleen’s #TankaTuesday poet’s choice and for Draw a Bird Day, a didactic cinquian.

The Egyptian god Thoth was often represented as an ibis, or an ibis-headed man. Like the sacred ibis bird, he was associated with knowledge, wisdom and the moon, but also much more. Scribe to the gods, he taught men to write. He was the reckoner of time, “he who balances”, a scientist and magician.

Millions of ibis birds were mummified in Ancient Egypt as offerings to Thoth. The sacred ibis is now regionally extinct in Egypt, although it is still found in other Sub-Saharan African lands.

One species of ibis found in eastern American coastal regions is the glossy ibis. From a distance it appears to be a mostly uniform dark color, but close up its feathers become an iridescent rainbow.

Today is #WorldMigratoryBirdDay. The glossy ibis flocks that breed along the NE coast migrate to the Gulf of Mexico for wintering. As with all shore dependent migratory birds, saving our natural shorelines are one key to their survival.

Also linking to earthweal open link weekend.

Green Jay (Draw a Bird Day)

clever, curious–
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.

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.

Martin Luther King Day 2021

mid-January–
voice of crow under grey skies–
how to fill the hole

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

“Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles; Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. Courage breeds creativity; Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it. Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience ask the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

for earthweal open link weekend

Draw a Bird Day: Warblers

tangled green
flashes of yellow
passing through

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.

Draw a Bird Day: Nuthatch

upside down
the world becomes new–
balancing
body mind
opened into new visions
enlarged perpectives

One weekend sitting on campus with our coffee and tea, my daughter and I were surrounded by birds. A mockingbird sang a complicated repertoire of songs for about a half hour, blue jays and cardinals visited, crow got in a word or two, and there were lots of sparrows–at least we assumed all the small birds were sparrows–until one started going up and then head down around a tree trunk. Sparrows definitely don’t do that.

When I looked it up in my birdbook at home, I discovered it was a white breasted nuthatch. They like to forage in the bark for insects, and even cache seeds in the crevices. They are quite common in the United States, although I don’t recall ever noticing one before.

I had found my subject for draw a bird day, and wrote a shadorma to accompany the art for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday, poet’s choice.

Weekend drawing and painting, 10/17/20

I started this one a few weeks ago. It’s good that I’m trying to post some art every Monday because it makes me sit down and work. This one has the three figures in it but they were put in intentionally.

I wasn’t feeling inspired much. Took a walk with my husband and found this little bird wing. I’m hoping it’s just a piece from the bird and that the bird is still okay. It was a beautiful little find so I had to do a drawing.

Lovely weather here in New Jersey. I hope everyone has a good week. Nina