Posts Tagged ‘red-winged blackbird’

Monday Art

            “I do not know which to prefer. The beauty of inflections. Or the beauty of innuendoes. The Blackbird whistling. Or just after.” – Wallace Stevens

Monday art by Pat Bean

Monday art by Pat Bean

And a Few Birdy Quotes

            “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” – Maya  Angelou

            “Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” – Henry Van Dyke

     “Birds are indicators of the environment. If they are in trouble, we know we’ll soon be in trouble.” Roger Tory Peterson

            “When birds burp, it must taste like bugs.” – Bill Watterson

            “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

            “Did St. Francis preach to the birds? Whatever for? If he really liked birds he would have done better to preach to the cats.” Rebecca West      

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: The Day After http://tinyurl.com/ltfx4wl What is a friend?

Read Full Post »

            “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.

Read Full Post »

 “The very idea of a bird is a symbol and a suggestion to the poet. A bird seems to be at the top of the scale, so vehement and intense his life … The beautiful vagabonds, endowed with every grace, masters of all climes, and knowing no bounds – how many human aspirations are realized in their free, holiday lives – and how many suggestions to the poet in their flight and song!” – John Burroughs

Delightful, Colorful, Awesome Birds

Great blue heron at Lake Arrowhead State Park -- Photo by Pat Bean

From the Bullock oriole’s flash of bright orange feathers as it flew across my path to the Canada geese that strutted down to the lake, birds were constantly making their presence known during my visit to Texas’ Lake Arrowhead State Park.

For an avid birder like myself, it was better than my favorite Jack-in-the-Box chocolate milkshake high — and came without the calories.

Mockingbirds were plentiful, making my mind play tricks on me when I saw one that didn’t quite fit in. I was thinking it might have been a tropical mockingbird, but then this quite-out-of-place species was on my mind from reports of one of them being seen in Texas’ Sabine Woods. I certainly wasn’t sure enough of my find to add it to my life list of birds.

Canada geese strutted across the manicured lawn near the fishing pier, making it easy to photograph them. I wish I had been able to capture the flock that had honked their way overhead earlier in the morning. But as I remind people often, I'm a writer not a photographer, and the only camera I own is a pocket Canon point and shoot. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I saw a great blue heron at the fish-cleaning station near the park’s fishing pier, but before I could get a picture,  it flew away. It landed in the lake on the opposite side of the pier and began fishing for its breakfast.

When I looked at it through my binoculars at it,  I saw a dozen or so spotted sandpipers cruising the shoreline in front of it, and a yellowlegs a bit farther out in the water. It had to have been a lesser yellowlegs because it was too close in size to the sandpipers to be a greater.

As I continued to watch the sandpipers, a red-winged blackbird flew in beside them. Its shoulder epaulets were so brilliantly red that they made my heart skip a beat.

Grackles, robins, snowy and great egrets, swallows (cave, I think), killdeer, scissor-tailed flycatchers and circling turkey vultures were among the many other birds at the park that I saw.

While I suspect the park is mostly favored by fishermen, it’s now on this birders list of favorite places, too.

Bean’s Pat: Trees for Arbor Day http://tinyurl.com/crhxqtu For tree huggers like me, a slide show from the National Wildlife Federation.

Read Full Post »

A chukar on Antelope Island, where this game bird was transplanted, is usually easy for a birdwatcher to find. I've seen many of them, and each time was as delightful as the first time.

 “Life is a great and wondrous mystery, and the only thing we know that we have for sure is what is right here right now. Don’t miss it.” — Leo Buscaglia

Travels With Maggie

I keep a list of every bird species I see for the first time and a list of the all the places I’ve been. I’m always delighted when I add to these two lists. But thankfully, I’m not like the birder who passed me on a trail on Antelope Island in Great Salt Lake a couple of years ago. .

Maggie and I were dawdling along, she sniffing the flowers and everything else we passed as cocker spaniels do, and me watching red-winged blackbirds flash their scarlet marked wings while listening to a couple of breeding male meadowlarks trying to out sing each other.

Barely slowing his pace, the middle-aged hiker asked if I had seen a chukar. I replied that I often saw this partridge-like bird in the rocks near the bend up ahead. About 10 minutes later, the man ran past me going the other way.

Prong-horned antelope are also easy to find on Antelope Island if one takes the time to drive around and look. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Got it … that’s 713 birds for me now.” His voice was like the rumble of a passing freight train.

How sad, I thought, that he didn’t take a minute to admire the flashy scarlet markings on the blackbirds or to enjoy the melodic voices of the two meadowlarks.

Numbers on a list are only that. It’s being present in the moment – seeing the golden hue on a meadowlark’s throat as it tilts its head toward the sky in song, or the magic of a sunrise slowly coloring the sides of a canyon – that makes my heart beat faster. I enjoy such wonders whether I’m seeing it for the first or the hundredth time.

But I’ll still keep my lists. I like making them. They’re also a great way to recall the wonders I’ve taken the time to enjoy.

Read Full Post »

A perfect place to end the day: Lake Colorado City State Park ... Photo by Pat Bean

A perfect place to end the day: Lake Colorado City State Park ... Photo by Pat Bean

Stand still. The trees ahead and bush beside you are not lost.” — Albert Einstein.

Day Five

 I needed to stock up on supplies, including chemicals to keep my RV holding tank smelling like honeysuckle or the close approximation, so before leaving San Angelo I needed a Wal-Mart. I looked up the nearest one on my computer mapping program and wrote down the directions. Somewhere between the park and the store, however, my missing sense of direction had me zigging instead of zagging.

My planned 10-minute side trip into town ended up taking over an hour. The up side – I always try to find one when horse pucky happens — was that I now had a more personalized feel for San Angelo.

This Central Texas city of 100,000 is dissected by the Concho River, a fact that made itself known as I crossed it several times in my efforts to get unlost. The twisting river flows between O.C. Fisher Lake to the north of town and Lake Nasworthy to the south, where I had spent the night.

Depending on the section of town in which I was lost, I could describe San Angelo as a progressive town or a decaying one, a place of manicured lawns or junky shacks, and its residents as rich or poor. Actually most of it looked pretty middle class, which gave it a distinction of being just about like any other city of its size I’ve explored. ations. The flat see-for-miles landscape was dotted with sagebrush, cactus and clunky mesquite and cedar trees. Adding color to the otherwise dull landscape were the roadside wildflowers Texas is known for: purple verbena, bluebonnets, pink primroses, and yellow blossoms too numerous (and difficult) to identify. Oil rigs, cattle, spring-plowed fields and huge windmills completed the picture. The latter was a recent addition to a landscape that was etched on my Texas memory.

The oil rigs pumping on one side and windmills turning on the other spoke of this country’s over-weight dependency on energy. I was glad to see the cleaner fuel source addition, but wondered if it would be enough. I, however, couldn’t cast stones. My RV was my glass house. My holding tank deodorizer, however, was organic and non-toxic.


Red-winged blackbird

A red-winged blackbird with shoulder epaulettes as bright as a shiny fire engine brought my attention back to nature. It stayed there until I drove into Lake Colorado City State Park, where I would spend the next two nights in a campground full of mesquite trees just coming into bloom. Both the trees and the ground beneath them was atwitter with birds. Life is good.

Photos and prose copyrighted by Pat Bean. Do not use without permission.

Read Full Post »