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.
we find your habits
impaling your prey on thorns–
killing to survive
our own destructive
disconnected from earth–
we pull life apart
The Loggerhead Shrike, also known as butcherbird or thornbird, is a medium sized songbird that acts like a raptor. With a short hooked beak, but lacking the talons of a true bird of prey, it hunts in similar ways, diving from an elevated perch or hovering and flushing its victims. It then impales its food on thorns or barbed wire. It can kill prey larger than itself by spearing the head or neck and twisting at a very high speed. Sounds gruesome, no? And many of the reference photos I looked at showed it either consuming or impaling its next meal–amphibians, insects, lizards, small mammals, small birds.
But it’s part of the food chain. And that’s how it obtains it’s food.
Loggerhead Shrikes, like many birds, have become endangered as their North American habitats shrink or are destroyed. Climate change and pesticides have also caused populations to decline.
How did I post this? Several people suggested going into the WP Administration page where you can do a normal post without dealing with the blocks. I looked at the block again briefly, but without success.
Still in the midst of moving, but should be back posting (as long as I can do it this way) in a couple weeks.
Not only did Kerfe’s post inspire me, I downright copied her.
I do love owls. Here is a cute one that is now extinct.
The most famous extinct bird of all: the Dodo.
Happy 🦅 day.
Pinto’s Spinetail is an endangered bird that hives in subtropical forest and shrubland in NE Brazil. Just 2% of native forest remains in this area, and less than 1000 of these birds are currently surviving. They mate for life, and my favorite fact about them is that “pairs sing in duets to defend their nesting territories”, according to abcbirds.org.
see the forest
as quiet as
song has wandered
This painting is an experiment for me–I’ve been inspired by how Claudia McGill takes the world and simplifies it into color and shape, and this is my first attempt to imitate her approach. Although she likes to use her paints straight out of the tube, I have to admit I mixed the bird feather color, not having a tube of gouache even close to the right tone. It felt like painting in layers, and I do like layering. Although I have a long way to go to reach Claudia’s grasp of the essential shapes of things…
And the Oracle was insightful, as always.
On my way to the beach (although the forecast is for a rainy week). Nina has promised to keep you entertained while I’m away.
noise words without meaning
footnotes to the air
Answers taken given
traded for babble
Particles of lies shared
on repeat screeching
I meant to write a quadrille (44 words) with the secret keeper’s words this week, but I wasn’t paying attention really, and the “6-5-6-5-6-5-6-5” I wrote down beside each line became syllables instead of words. I also meant it to be more about the birds. I used all the words though!
Now to the subject at hand: The parrot is painted with the new gouache I got for Christmas. I wanted to do something bright and colorful to start, and a parrot seemed the perfect subject.
Parrots are symbolically associated with voices, words, communication, and the power of truth. They do not keep secrets. They are also linked to color magic. And, like many birds, they serve as messengers between heaven and earth.
They are also endangered, due to habitat loss and the pet trade. These intelligent sub-tropical birds can live 80-100 years; a pet parrot is a lifetime investment, requiring enormous amounts of attention, care, and intellectual stimulation to thrive. Needless to say, both birds and humans are better served by leaving these social animals in their natural habitats, and protecting those habitats.
from inside the earth
rebirth transitioning death
answers with echoes
It’s Bat Appreciation Day…a reminder of how vital they are to ecosystems everywhere. Insect control, pollination, and seed dispersal are all important ways that bats help keep the earth in balance. Many bat populations are endangered for the usual reasons: habitat loss and fragmentation, hunting, disease, use of chemicals.
Bats play an important part in story and myth as well. Because they often live in caves and come out at dusk, bats are associated with the ambiguity of night. Western culture tends to give bats an evil shading (think vampires and the wings of devils), but many Asian and Native American cultures associate them with good luck.
Today also marks the celebration of Haiku Poetry Day. How do I know this? Charlie at Doodlewash is sponsoring a month of celebratory days, and he made sure I knew about Haiku Poetry Day for NaPoWriMo.
I’ve painted sea turtles before, when I was doing endangered species on a regular basis. It bears repeating that nearly all sea turtles are endangered. Habitat destruction, particularly of coastal nesting sites, and poaching for eggs, meat, skin and shells all contribute to species loss, but one of the biggest problems is that they get caught in fishing nets. To save sea turtles and the ocean ecosystem they are part of will require global cooperation.
Turtles generally spend most of their time in water, while tortoises reside on land, so why are box turtles not called box tortoises? Sometimes they are, in fact, but they actually belong to the pond turtle family, so the turtle label is also appropriate. They are the state reptiles of North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, and Kansas. Populations are declining everywhere due to (surprise!) habitat destruction and fragmentation, but they are particularly endangered in Asia, due to their use in traditional medicine, and the pet trade.
And terrapins? They tend to live in swampy areas, equally at home in water and on land.
Nina and I have done a number of turtle posts. With more coming, I’m sure.
You can read more about endangered turtles here.
Last February I posted about the wonderful bird paintings showing up in my neighborhood. At the time, the man behind the project, Avi Gitler, told me to watch for more birds. Wow! He wasn’t thinking small.
Imagine my surprise when I walked over to Amsterdam Avenue a few months ago and saw…an entire building filled with birds (and James Audubon too!). This beautiful mural, “Endangered Harlem” was painted by a young artist from Baltimore, Gaia.
At the corner of 155th Street and Broadway are two murals, flanking the gas station there. “Fish Crow”, by Italian artist Hitnes, is also part of a project he did where he created 15 bird murals following Audubon’s journey across the United States. You can read about this project and see more of the murals here.
The other mural on this corner, “Swallow Tailed Kite (and others)” was painted by the Ecuadorian-American artist Lunar New Year. You can see more of his wonderful work on his website here.
…and Happy National Bird Day! Let’s all work to help save these beautiful creatures from extinction.
And don’t forget Draw-a-Bird Day, the 8th of each month, is coming up again on Friday!
I haven’t had the watercolors out for awhile, and this little guy caught my eye.
Lemurs are found only on Madagascar. All lemur species are endangered due to shrinking and fragmented habitat. They are also poached, even from reserves, for food, and kept as pets. Seventeen species of lemur are already extinct.
The ring-tailed lemur was featured in a previous endangered species post.
For more information about efforts to save these primates: http://lemur.duke.edu/
…to both Halloween and many ecosystems. They keep insects under control, pollinate plants, and disperse seeds. Seventy-five species of bats are endangered or critically endangered due to the usual: loss of habitat, climate change, disease (in North America white nose syndrome has killed huge numbers and is still spreading), and hunting for food and medicinal use in Southeast Asia.
And Vampire Bats? The species, living in Central and South America, mostly feed on blood from farm animals and birds. And the bite doesn’t kill. The danger comes from the possibility that the bat carries rabies.
Only a small percentage of bats carry rabies. Raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, and cats and dogs are a much bigger rabies threat to humans, although since the advent of widespread vaccinations for pets, there have been very few cases of human rabies in the United States.
You can see my last year’s Halloween bat post here.