Tag Archive | birds

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.

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.

Baltimore Oriole (Draw a Bird Day)

my eye attempts to join
with wings, lifted
by an unseen wind–
a blurred displacement
of air expanding the horizon
beyond all sense of limits–
the sky trembles, held
in a featherlight embrace,
as if it, too, would rise,
spellbound,
into the cosmic sea

A quadrille that includes the word eye for dVerse, hosted by Bjorn. It’s not specifically about an oriole, but in the spirit of Draw a Bird Day.

The Baltimore Oriole, named for its orange and black feathers that are the same colors as Lord Baltimore’s coat of arms, summers in the Northeastern and Central United States and Canada, migrating to Florida, the Caribbean islands, and Central and South America in winter. New World orioles are not related to Old World orioles, but are part of the blackbird and meadowlark family.

Residing in forest edges and open woodlands, the oriole’s diet includes insects, flowers, and fruits. They especially like ripe fruit, and can be attracted to bird feeders with orange slices or sugar water. They weave unique hanging nests that look delicate but are remarkably strong. You can see photos and read more about their nests here.

Females and young males have a subtle grey and golden coloring although females grow more orange with each molt, and may end up close to the bright male coloring as they age.

Orioles are not endangered, but they are in decline, partially due to their preference for nesting in elm trees, which have been devastated by Dutch Elm Disease.

Orioles are the second of my orange and black birds for the Year of the Tiger. You can see the first one, the Rufous Treepie, here.

Rufous Treepie (Draw a Bird Day)

In your native landscape
they call you taka chor
always wanting more, more–
objects, glitter

Filling trees with loud calls,
attention-seeking mein–
to be both heard and seen–
crow to the core

The rufous treepie, a long-tailed bird native to India and southeast Asia, is known locally as taka chor, or “coin stealer”. Like all corvids, it loves shiny objects, and has no misgivings about taking anything that catches its eye.

Also, like all crows, it will eat pretty much anything, and is intelligent, adaptable, and opportunistic.

Primarily arboreal, it feeds mostly among the forest cover, and will often hunt with other bird species to flush out more insects from the trees. As its woodland habitat decreases, however, it has learned to live in urban parks and yards, and has no problem eating discarded human food or road kill, if that’s what’s available.

I chose the rufous treepie while looking for orange and black birds in honor of the Year of the Tiger. That may be my bird theme for the year–there are many to choose from.

The poem is an abhanga for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. Appropriately, an Indian poetic form.

The top bird was done with brush and ink, the middle one is neocolors, and the bottom one is colored pencil with ink outlines–I found a feather quill pen I bought years ago in a box. It’s a bit tricky to use, and I’m out of practice. But I enjoyed working with it again.

Western Meadowlark:  Draw a Bird Day

crescent silhouette
yellow breast
white flash winging
singing
through air

The Western Meadowlark, a resident of western and central North America, is not actually a lark, but is related to blackbirds and starlings. Like larks, though, it is one of the few birds that sings as it flies. The black crescent on its bright yellow breast and the white flash of its tail feathers when flying make it easy to identify.

Though not yet considered endangered, breeding populations have declined 50% in the last 50 years. The meadowlark’s favored habitat of wide open fields and natural grasslands has been declining due to agriculture, housing development, pesticides, invasive plant species, and fire suppression that alters the composition of native landscapes.

I’ve written a gogyoka for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday color poetry challenge.

January 2022: into the darkness

all of it, this New Year,
erasing the old one–
we wish it gone–
but it lingers, overlapping—

erasing the old one
in a circle of continuous return–
it lingers, overlapping–
there seems to be not enough space

for a circle of continuous return–
branches extending in all directions–
there seems to be not enough space
to hold everything–and yet

branches extend in all directions–
sometimes, for a moment,
we hold everything—and yet, still,
here we are, as always, between—

sometimes, for a moment,
pausing on the threshold–
here, where we are, between,
we can see eternity filling,

pausing on the threshold
under an infinite star-filled sky–
we can see eternity filling,
brimming with birds

under an infinite star-filled sky–
we wish it to stay,
brimming with birds,
all of it–welcoming this New Year

A pantoum for 2022. Happy New Year!

Eagle (draw a bird day)

sacred king
of the sun, spirit
of mercy,
renewal,
visionary messenger–
extend us your wings

Eagles are one of the world’s largest birds, with massive wings that allow them to fly for a long time and with great speed, all with a minimum of effort. They can go many weeks between meals, and will eat whatever is available in their habitat–other birds, amphibians, fish, small mammals. They can carry up to four times their own body weight, but will often scavenge for food rather than killing live prey.

“Eagle eye” is not just a saying. An eagle’s vision is eight times sharper than a human’s–they see both much farther, and with greater focus. They can also see a wider range of colors, including the ultraviolet spectrum.

I decided to do an eagle this month because Nina sent me this wonderful wooden eagle that her father brought back from Jerusalem. I have a bird totem carved by my sister-in-law’s father that Nina thought would make a good companion–and it does.

Although I began by drawing bald eagles, I realized after a bit of research that Nina’s eagle was more likely a golden eagle, which was once a common inhabitant of Israel, but is now only represented by a few breeding pairs, for all the usual reasons–decline of habitat, human predation. So I drew a golden eagle as well.

My poem is a shadorma. The eagle has powerful symbolism in cultures all over the world. Thanks, Nina, for adding this beautiful totem to my living space!

Eastern Screech Owl: Draw a Bird Day

listening
eyes that penetrate
beyond fear

I had a dream awhile back about hearing a bird calling. Looking for the source, I found it was a tiny owl. It let me get up close to it, but when I tried to take its photo, it went into my daughter’s shirt pocket and hid. Of course I had to try to identify what this owl could be.

As with my hoopoe dream, I recognized it immediately when I saw photos. The Eastern Screech Owl is a robin-sized owl, and would easily fit into a pocket. They are common throughout eastern North America, and though they prefer woodlands, have adapted to living in both cities and suburbs. These owls do not build nests, but depend on tree holes that already exist, often those abandoned by woodpeckers. They will also use nest boxes. Active from dusk to dawn, they eat mostly insects and small rodents, but have been known to catch small fish, as well as frogs and lizards. They also eat other birds, as owls are prone to do.

Their call is unusual, more like a whinny than what I would associate with an owl. Definitely not a screech.

Owls are considered old souls, prophets, protectors, keepers of ancient wisdom. They are also associated with death. But as with the Death card in the tarot, death is never just an ending, but a beginning as well.

As to what my dream meant, I still haven’t puzzled it out.

I didn’t have time to paint an owl this week, but I did a third quick drawing without looking at the page. A good exercise which I should repeat more often.

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.

draw a bird day: chicken music

cock-
a doo-
dle-
do cluck
cluck buk buk
kuh-kuh-
kack
ba-gawk
tuk buk tuk-
king rrrrrrr chirp peep-
ing chirp
trill errrr
cack-
le chir-
rup squawk crow
caaaaaw cock-
a-
doodle-
do

The last Kick-About prompt was a video of a dancing chicken from Herzog’s film Stroszek. I first decided to draw while watching the video on a roll of rice paper that I had. My photos did not show up that well, but Phil Gomm kindly inverted color and ground and made the lovely images above.

I really like drawing chickens, and so I did a neocolor image. Then I decided to do some monoprint outlines based on my original drawings.

The outlines were fine, but my attempts to print colors on top were not as successful, so I ended up painting over them. One thing I really like about the Kick-About prompts is that it challenges me to try lots of different things.

For the poem, inspired by David’s Waltz Wave sound poem at the skeptic’s kaddish, I did some research on chicken sounds. It turns out there are many online threads about this subject, as so many people are now raising their own chickens and are delighted by their vocalizations.

And so many beautiful and varied breeds! I’ve done chickens several times before, and I’m sure there will be more for some future Draw a Bird Day as well.

I’m taking a break for a few weeks…enjoy the rest of your summer!