bridge of wings
joyful rainbow dance
into fields of energy
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.
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–
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.
a motion so finely tuned
in a shiver of light,
appearing as a hush,
an exchange of intersections–
a motion so finely tuned
it enters your breath,
singing your weary bones,
infusing your tired blood
with heartbeats, dancing–
a motion so finely tuned
and completely useless
that it fills you with hope,
measureless and heartbreaking–
whirling you alive inside
a motion–so finely tuned
For the Kick-About #54, “Whirligig”, I made a bird mobile by adding sky and bird collage to three different sizes of wooden rings and hanging them together. It was hard to get good photos, but Phil cleaned up the ones I sent him to give a clearer idea of the mobile in motion.
Here it is flat. I have it hanging in my living room where the ceiling fan keeps it moving.
My poem is in the quatern form, except it doesn’t rhyme, using words from Merril’s random word list that she posted on Sunday. I was inspired by Rumi’s poem “Whirling”, and, of course, birds.
When you dance the whole universe dances.
All the realms spun around you in endless celebration.
Your soul loses its grip.
Your body sheds its fatigue.
Hearing my hands clap and my drum beat,
You begin to whirl.
sometimes in dreams I
remember a time when my spirit was
lifted by stars, silent
as a secret, and then
suddenly moonbound dark and
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.
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,
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.
In your native landscape
they call you taka chor—
always wanting more, more–
Filling trees with loud calls,
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.
white flash winging
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.
of the sun, spirit
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!
eyes that penetrate
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.