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.
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.
My poem Upon a Time, inspired by “Spinning Flax”, by Maria Martinetti, below, is posted on The Ekphrastic Review today.
hushabye, don’t cry–
all the pretty horses fly
shining starborne dreams
You can read the entire poem here.
My thanks once again to editor Lorette C. Luzajic for supporting my work and the interaction between the visual and written arts.
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.
tree lights sparkling
music and kitchen cheer
exchanging gifts of Love Actu
Colleen’s challenge this week was to write a cinquain reflecting our Christmas traditions. A tree with lights, music, cooking (especially those cookies!) and watching “Love Actually”–my daughters and I were lucky enough to share all these again this year.
I hope everyone separated from family and friends for this holiday season will be able to celebrate being together soon.
I spent a lot of time thinking about the earthweal challenge this week, to write a poem of thanks. It all came down to the same thing: I’m thankful for life, to be alive. But I couldn’t think of another better way to say it.
grace, this balancing—darkness
shining into light
Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating, and those who are not. May we remember and honor all life with care and gratitude.
and I am reminded again of who I am,
what I see when I look up at the night sky,
the scent of the earth in spring–
I feel the summer lingering,
long days of sun and sand
and the salty taste I carry
through days that follow me in rhythm
with the waves–
I see the sharpness of blue sky
behind black branches,
a playground of white snow
that culminates in hot chocolate,
the inside warming the outer—
I have been uprooted and transplanted
so many times that nowhere is home–
everything is temporary–
I’m always expecting to move on–
but I remember looking up
through the shade of oak trees,
the roses in my mother’s garden,
lilacs filled with butterflies—
the rust and gold of autumn
singing beneath my feet
For the earthweal challenge, a song of earth-praise from 2019. How far away that seems now. But I am still thinking of my mother.