I consulted with the Oracle about this tiny (3″) Mexican hummingbird, one of many of the endangered bird species of the world. Less than 1000 are estimated to exist.
I did my first sketch, above, in colored pencil, but felt the colors lacked enough vibrancy, so I painted the top one with my metallic watercolors.
Flowers grow feathered
wings humming bird poetry
air breathes spiritsong
jeweled feathers caught
in reflected mist—cloistered
This is another brightly colored resident of the South American cloud forest, the grey-breasted mountain toucan. As with all inhabitants of the world’s cloud forests, they are a threatened species because of habitat loss.
Drawn with neocolors.
Outside the visible, the veil persists, a misted crown,
a canopy to shelter woodlands from both up and down–
the spirits dance their circles through the portals of the clouds,
beyond enclosure following the songs of the unknown.
With wings of color bearing light and magic on the air,
the alchemy of green and gold renews and then repairs
this ancient symbiosis moored to currents at its core
awakening new seeds, building a bridge from here to there.
The El Oro Parakeet is an endangered bird living in the Andes cloud forest of Southwestern Ecuador. Cloud forests are also endangered throughout the world. You can read about them here.
This is my first attempt at a rubaiyat poem, the featured form at dVerse for February. I could not make 13 syllables work, so I ended up with 14. I also fudged the rhymes a bit. I don’t usually write long lines, and that was what I found to be the biggest challenge for me.
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.
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/
…with hopes for something positive from the climate conference in Paris…
we call you that
sometimes. We do not think
what this could mean. We do not think
green brown riot of pattern and
color could disappear.
We do not think:
A response to Jane Dougherty’s “butterfly cinquain” challenge. She’s right, it does look like a butterfly!
…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.