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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.

Memorial Weekend 2022

I received the paper I ordered from a very nice lady on Etsy. I’m well stocked on black and I also ordered a package of different colors.

The colors are kind of meh but in a good neutral way. I did a couple of drawings on them right away, the one on top and this one:

My husband is 17 days post surgery. He’s still very tired and says he feels like a beached whale. He’s had a physical therapist and a nurse visit a few times at the house and will need to continue that as he is quite deconditioned. He will emerge stronger!

Today I honor my father and all the brave soldiers who have upheld our country. I fear my father may be turning over in his grave. Things are not looking good here in America and it’s frightening.

And on that note, I wish everyone a good Memorial Day! Nina

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.

Weekend Work 4/25/22

Some work based around the lower spine and pelvis bone found by a friend who knows I like this stuff.

The actual piece and the drawing. If I had to guess at the animal I’d say probably a deer. My friend found it in a field in upstate New York.

Some drawings of a vertebra that came loose from the spine.

Still life with mosaic vase, pencil, rock and vertebra.

A very rare find, found by another friend. He thought it was a baby deer skull. Quite unusual to find the bottom jaw still attached.

My husband is still going through hell with yet a third hospital admission, this time for sepsis. He is home; he has to go for antibiotic infusions every day. Today might be the last day and we are seeing a hematologist later to discuss coagulation. My husband developed a pulmonary embolus and has been on a blood thinner for a long time. This entire thing started around January 19 and he is still struggling. Sending vibes up to the universe constantly to get him better!

Have a good week. Nina

Weekend Drawing 4/11/2022

I think it’s the first time in two years using white paper. It was fun sitting down and drawing for no other reason than to draw.

Two versions of a bird’s claw. The claw was a gift to me many years ago. I’ve always liked it.

My mom’s nautilus shell. I have a large container of her shells and beach glass.

The models for these drawing were right in front of me. It was fun drawing again and I think I’ll make it a regular practice.

Husband is going to work today 10-3. I’m a bit worried but I know he wants to go back and I’m glad for him. Tomorrow is our 41st anniversary. Have a good week! Nina

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.

Drawing a horse

A policeman and his horse on Garrett Mountain overlooking Paterson, NJ. I used to draw a lot of horses as a kid. I even painted a life sized one on the Nature Shack at Camp Nah-Jee-Wah where I was a camper and then a counselor…back in the day.

My husband continues his battle with Covid. We have oxygen in the house which helps. He has fallen a few times, badly. He’s on a blood thinner which makes things worse i.e. a huge hematoma on his left side and a swollen left hand from his fall on Friday. He still has a good attitude but it’s been a long haul. (The doctors don’t call it long haul Covid yet as it’s only been three months).

Have a good week!

Drawing a Door for Thursday Doors

The paper waits.
There’s nothing on it yet.
I print the photo,
measure in my mind
where to place the door.
Is that the focal point of my drawing,
or is it the guardian, the mirror?

The paper waits.
With tentative lines,
my pencil begins.
Lines, circles and squares
fill in the details.
And then with pen in hand I scribble ink–
and gradually a form starts to  appear.

I’ll be the first to admit that architecture is not my artistic forte. Still, since Colleen’s #TankaTuesday prompt was to share a photo from your day and write a poetic accompaniment, I decided to give it a try for my Thursday Door. The poetic form I used was Duodora.

I don’t always pencil in things first, but in this case it seemed necessary if I wanted any kind of successful result. The proportions are off, but you can definitely tell it’s a door.

And you might even recognize it as the side door to the Lucerne Hotel, on West 79th Street. The entrance is quite wonderful too, but I’ll need to get up early to try to capture it when there’s not much traffic, as I need to take the photo from across the street. The Lucerne was used, controversially, as a shelter for the homeless during the Covid lockdown, but I think now it’s back to just being a hotel. You can read a bit more about its history here.