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Posts Tagged ‘Birds’

            “In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” – Aristotle

Red-winged blackbird sketch I made after seeing this bird during an Antelope Island outing. -- Illustration by Pat Bean

Red-winged blackbird sketch I made after seeing this bird during an Antelope Island outing. — Illustration by Pat Bean

Puzzle Solved

            I didn’t become a passionate birdwatcher until 1999. Until then, while I enjoyed watching the winged miracles when I saw them, unless it was a cardinal, blue jay, mockingbird or a few other quite common species, I couldn’t name them.

Female red-winged blackbird. -- Wikimedia photo

Female red-winged blackbird. — Wikimedia photo

But when the birding passion hit me, I became obsessed with identifying any bird that came into view. So it was that I spent nearly an hour at Green River State Park north of Moab, Utah, one afternoon trying to identify the bird pictured in the photo on the right. There were more than a dozen of them flitting around the reedy edges of a small stream of water.

I went back and forth through my birding field book without success. Then a male red-winged blackbird flew past – and the light finally penetrated my little gray cells.

I finally knew I was looking at female red-winged blackbirds, whose gift of nature are feathers that camouflage the girls when they are sitting on eggs and raising chicks.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Photo Nature Blog http://tinyurl.com/nymzhmb   One of my favorite birds — and this is a great photo capture of a red-winged blackbird  in flight.            

Bean Pat: 47-million year-old bird fossil http://tinyurl.com/ncbdvtr I found this discovery fascinating.

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“Yes sir, I am a tortured man for all seasons, as they say, and I have powerful friends in high places. Birds sing where I walk, and children smile when they see me coming.” – Hunter S. Thompson

Metal bird sculpture at Tohono Chul Park in Tucson. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Metal bird sculpture at Tohono Chul Park in Tucson. — Photo by Pat Bean

Fooled by the Eyes

            Searching for birds has its surprises. Sometimes what you think is a yellow-rumped warbler turns out just to be the profile of a

I like it that this bird was created from junked metal parts. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I like it that this bird was created from junked metal parts. — Photo by Pat Bean

quirky tree twig lit by a spit of sunlight, or a snowy egret turns out to be a white trash bag that someone carelessly tossed away, and which was blown up against some weeds by the wind.

I’ve seen leaf birds, shadow birds, bottle birds (a blue one floating on the water that from a far distance looked like a blue heron), stump birds and thousands of litter birds of flotsam,  jetsam and abandoned debris.

I thought about these non-birds during a recent stroll in Tucson’s Tohono Chul Park. Unlike all the litter birds I’ve seen, the park]s birds made me smile.

Are you smiling, too.

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: The Currents of Life http://tinyurl.com/kenqp2u Just some things to ponder.

 

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In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.” — Alice Walker

Only a Tree

Shaped by wind coming off the Gulf of Mexico. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Shaped by wind coming off the Gulf of Mexico. — Photo by Pat Bean

The Wondering Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean’s Pat: The Daily Echo http://tinyurl.com/myb66tl Only a bird … and only a great blog.

 

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            “A flash of harmless lighting, a mist of rainbow dyes, the burnished sunbeams brightening, from flower to flower he flies.” John Banister Tabb

Bringing Joy to the Trees

A male costa hummingbird. The female lacks the bright colors, being mostly green and white. -- Pat Bean illustration.

A male costa hummingbird. The female lacks the bright colors, being mostly green and white. — Pat Bean illustration.

Since it’s warmed up here in Tucson, I’ve begun sitting at a picnic bench beneath some trees for Pepper’s afternoon outing.

Although it’s not the best time of day for birding, there are usually birds flitting in the trees surrounding me, so I bring my binoculars.

Yesterday, there was a pair of hummingbirds keeping me company while Pepper frolicked in the grass. From their general demeanor, I assumed the hummers were black-chinned, the species I’ve seen more often than any other.

Then something didn’t look quite right, and I realized I was now living in an area where more than black-chins or broadtails (Utah) or black-chins or ruby-throated (Texas except for the Rio Grande Valley) were common.

Hummingbirds, which seldom stay still, aren’t easy for me to identify. But after about 10 minutes of study,  and when one finally settled on a nearby branch facing me, I realized it was a costa hummingbird.

This was a life species for me, meaning the first time I had seen and identified this bird. I couldn’t wait to get back to my apartment and bring my list up to date. The costa hummingbird made No. 701 on the list of bird species I’ve seen.

I did a quick sketch so you can see it too. No way am I a good enough photographer to have captured this tiny bundle of energy on wings with my camera.

  Bean’s Pat: Readful Things http://tinyurl.com/lmcgc76 A review of “White Fang,” my second favorite Jack London book, which I read many, many years ago. Maybe it’s time for a reread. My favorite London Book, you ask? “Call of the Wild,” of course. A few years back I visited London’s cabin in the Yukon. The cabin is located in Dawson, where I spent the night before crossing the Yukon River on a ferry and driving the Top of the World Highway on my way to Fairbanks, Alaska. Ahhhhh! What good memories I have from that trip.

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  “If we are to achieve a richer culture rich in contrasting value we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.” – Margaret Mead

Clearly these figures located at the Chinatown Center in Austin, Texas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Clearly these figures located at the Chinatown Center in Austin, Texas. — Photo by Pat Bean

What Culture? Who’s Culture?

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            I found this week’s topic confusing. Culture has many meanings, and some of those I think depend on personal interpretations.

A doctor might think of cultivating a bacteria, while a farmer thinks of cultivated land. Are we talking about culture as being educated, or as how it relates to an ethnic group. Or simply an  everyday existence shared by people who live close together and share the same values?

The culture of  people who live by the sea and make their living fishing would be quite different from a group of apartment dwellers who take the train into work every morning.

Since I couldn’t decide what would best exemplify culture, I just picked a couple of photos to share that I liked and that I think represent two diverse cultures.

Bean’s Pat: A Record-Breaking Birding Day  http://tinyurl.com/bv7s7sv 294 Texas species in 24 hours. This one is for the birders among my readers. It’s from the Cornell University Ornithological blog. Anybody here ever seen or read “A Big Year?  Great book, good movie!.

 

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Mourning dove — Photo by Pat Bean

 

If I had things my way, all birds would fly free.

Gambel's quail -- Photo by Pat Bean

Gambel’s quail — Photo by Pat Bean

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

By Maya Angelou

“A free bird leaps on the back of the wind
and floats downstream till the current ends
and dips his wing in the orange suns rays and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage
can seldom see through his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own.

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Gila woodpecker — Photo by Pat Bean

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.”

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          “This book is many things – a sketchbook, a journal, an attempt to understand other beings – but it is not a dispassionate recitation of scientific truths about birds. It’s a series of stories that I hope will pull back a curtain on … minds.” – Julie Zickefoose on her book, “The Bluebird Effect”

"The Bluebird Effect by Julie Zickefoose

“The Bluebird Effect by Julie Zickefoose

A Book for Bird Lovers

          I’ve long been a Julie Zickefoose fan, mostly through enjoying her art and painting in Bird Watcher’s Digest, in which she was featured almost every month.

One of the watercolors by Julie Zickefoose included in the book.

One of the watercolors by Julie Zickefoose included in the book.

          Being a writer who often sent articles to the magazine on speculation, and who was rejected every time but once — and then my piece, after being accepted, was killed and not run although I did get a kill fee  – I was jealous.

          Then I learned that Julie was married to the magazine’s editor and I felt a bit better. She had an in that I didn’t. That’s not to say Julie’s work wasn’t worth of being in the magazine every month. I often thought it was the best piece of work in the Digest.

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          And I was thrilled when I discovered she had written a book, “The Bluebird Effect.” It became the very next book I bought. I buy, if you hadn’t guessed, about a half-dozen books a month, and read those and about a half-dozen more as well.

          Julie’s book didn’t disappoint. Her art work, from quick sketches to colorful and detailed watercolors provided a delightful and enlightening look at birds and nature.

          If, like me, you like birds and art, then I bet you will love this book.

          Bean’s Pat: Julie Zickefoose  http://tinyurl.com/d7w9vud Great blog. And it just seemed appropriate to share more of this artistic writer’s awesome work.

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