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.
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.
gan in friendship,
narrowing the spaces between
in methodic madness–
shared creations expanding from
working in parallel–
threaded layered multiplied back
more to explore–
branching like trees and scattering
to inspire each
other, to our surprise
we found ourselves weaving a web–
“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.”
(this quote is the first thing I posted)
Nina and I began our blog on May 6, 2014, as a way to show each other the art we were doing. We had both let our creativity languish and were hoping to inspire each other to produce more. We made the above two combined logos–the top one merging art from each of us in the center, and our avatar which contained a drawing each of us had done of the other from the 1970s, when we met, working as designers in a textile company.
the news is full of sorrow
not should have been–two years
On May 7, I received my firsts “likes” for the above post. I didn’t have a clue…where did that come from? When Nina told me we had acquired followers I was mystified. Two of those first likes came from blogs I still interact with–Robert Okaji, and Outside Authority.
In the beginning I mostly posted drawings and old art, with the occasional 17 syllable poem. I got my first comment from someone other than Nina on May 30, for my first Beach I Ching post. I started writing more poetry in 2016. For the first few years Nina and I posted almost every day, and we did a number of collaborations.
Above is one of our collaborations with the Oracle.
Life has tossed us around a bit in the past few years. I’m posting less and doing some of my art/poetry at Kblog now, but you can still find me here for my monthly circle/grid, Draw a Bird Day, and Thursday Doors, with The Kick-About, and a few other things thrown in from time to time. Nina and I hope to get back to collaborations too.
I would not be doing the art or writing I’m doing today without this community. I’ve learned and been given so much–thank you, thank you, thank you! for your continued support .
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.
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.
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.