Flight or fisticuffs

Flight without feathers is not easy. ~Plautus

Great Egret (May 5, 2019) Clearwater, Florida.

I’m nowhere near ready for Monday, in large part because I’m dreading tomorrow morning’s dentist appointment. But it doesn’t seem likely I can sprout wings between then and now, so I guess flight is out. Which leaves fight.

There’s my answer!

I’m still alive, really

Turkey Vulture in Cave Creek Canyon.     5.15.19. Photo by Zippy.

 

Ever have one of those days when it feels as if vultures are circling? Yeah, me too.

I’ve been at my standing desk all afternoon and I think I’d best get moving so I’m not mistaken for carrion.

Magpie Monday

Just one of the many dashing Black-billed Magpies that came around for the peanuts and suet we put out over the weekend. I cleaned and refilled the bath multiple times as birds splashed to keep clean and stay cool in this horrid heat wave. High-90 degree temperatures are much too high, especially for September.

Hope it was cooler in your neck of the woods!

Thankful Thursday: BIRDS assignment!

Northern Cardinal (female). Columbus, OH. August 23, 2019

I’m so damned happy happy happy right now! I just accepted a work-for-hire assignment centered on birds. I get to research and write about birds!

Birds, people!

It’s going to be SO MUCH FUN. Not to mention, I’ll learn a lot which can only make me a better birder.

It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?

Taking back the color red

The other day I saw a neighbor walking up the street ahead of me. In 2016,  that white woman displayed a political sign in support of Agent Orange (something I don’t think I’ll ever forgive or forget), and when I saw her walking along in her red T-shirt I experienced a surge of anger. That red shirt triggered a stream of expletives about how she supported a white supremacist. (Poor Zippy had to endure that volcanic eruption.) Stupid mean people. Stupid red shirt.

But you know what? All the horrible racist people in this country don’t own the color red. Red is a beautiful color. Red belongs to all of us.

Cave Creek Canyon Ranch. May 16, 2019.

And no one wears it better than this dapper Northern Cardinal.

Resting in the grace of the world

Green Heron, Kapok Park. January 11, 2019

When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. ~ Wendell Berry

Sunday Confessional: I created a zombie bird!

I realize not everyone shares my love of all things bird, but I’m in awe of those feathered creatures and spend lots and lots of time gazing upon them.

However, my current gaze is not one of admiration. Moments ago when I finally looked closely at this photo I took in May, I was taken aback at how utterly freakish and zombie-like this white ibis appears.  And now I’m gazing at this picture in horror. I can’t look away.

What kind of camera settings were in place to create that dead eye and white-plastic body? Is this the first sign of an ibis-led zombie apocalypse?

Looking at you, Monday

Limpkin. Kapok Park, May 6, 2019.

Monday, Monday.
Can’t trust that day.

However, it does feel good knowing what day of the week it is, even if it’s the dreaded Monday, after being disoriented for much of last week when every day felt like a weekend day.

It’s good to know where I stand. Hello, Monday. Let’s do this.

The Jay formerly known as Gray

I took this photo at our campsite last month and just now when I went to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site to verify my identification (Gray Jay), learned  that Gray Jays are a thing of the past. In 2018, the American Ornithological Society voted to change the name from Gray Jay to Canada Jay.

What else did I learn?

“The Canada Jay stores large quantities of food for later use. It uses sticky saliva to glue small food items to tree branches above the height of the eventual snow line.”

Now that’s thinking ahead!

Say what?!

Monday’s almost over?

Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Clearwater, FL. May 6, 2019.

I’ve been buried in a book all day, researching a new subject, and somehow it’s four o’clock. How’d that happen? Guess that’s what’s known as FOCUS.

Eye of the night heron, baby. (Or something like that . . .)

Bringing the warmth and color

Right now the view out my window is dreary. Gray skies and patches of snow on the ground next to the tree limbs that broke off under the weight of the late snow. We’re nearing the end of May and Colorado has been atypically gloomy for the past several days. Enough, already. Thank the goddesses for the cheery plumage of this Northern Cardinal I photographed in Cave Creek Canyon.

Maybe I should go find my own festive red cap . . .

Final birding excursion

Zippy and I got up and out to the bridge on South Fork by six this morning. We hoped to see, among other birds, an Elegant Trogon. We joined several birders on the bridge also hoping for the “big prize.” Spoiler alert: Zippy and I never saw the Trogon (can’t vouch for the others since some went farther upstream and others down), but we heard its distinctive call which sounds like a barking seal or pig. We did have the pleasure of viewing some other birds:

American Robin (there’s a nest right there and yesterday we watched the parents battle it out with several Mexican Jays)
Northern Flicker
Blue-throated Hummingbird
Hepatic Tanager (male)
Dusky-capped Flycatcher (or Brown-crested Flycatcher?)
Plumbeous Vireo
Acorn Woodpecker (Zippy also saw Arizona Woodpecker)
White-breasted Nuthatch
Painted Redstart

At a couple minutes after eight we regretfully called it a morning since we had to pack up for our trip back to Colorado. As I drove slowly down the road I pulled over next to the stream in hopes of hearing the Trogon one last time. We didn’t hear its call, but we did see this beauty:

Farewell, Cave Creek Canyon.

Turkey Vulture on clean-up

We had a great birding day today, in large part because we joined up with Friends of Cave Creek Canyon volunteers who know their birds. It was lots of fun and very informative. However, we didn’t need any help identifying this big bird:

Photo by Zippy

Turkey Vulture!

Today the universe answered my call

This afternoon Zippy and I hiked the Greenhouse Trail in the Chiricahua Mountains. The guide trail notes said the mountain hike was also good for birding, so off we went to scratch our two itches. As we hiked along Greenhouse Creek we heard many bird songs and each time we’d raise our binoculars to scan for the source, hoping to identify one of the over 300 bird species in the region. As one after another (usually brown) bird flitted in and out of our sight before we could make a positive identification, I remembered the words of a birder friend from Anchorage. Anne once said to me, “You’re more of a ducker than a birder.”

And she was right. I do pretty well with the larger, more sedate feathered creatures. Ducks, shore birds, and wading birds are my comfort zone. They give me time to make identifications. Song birds in a forest are much harder for me to ID and today my frustration level went way the hell up.

I don’t know a whole lot of bird songs (shout-out to Mourning Doves and Spotted Towhees for their easily identifiable songs!) and I’m crap with our new guide book, Birds of Southeastern Arizona, because it’s grouped by type rather than by color. Hence my frustration and feelings of inadequacy.

As Zippy and I sat on a log next to the creek (because we’d lost the trail, which is a whole other story), he hoped aloud for birds to come up to us with signs. As in, “Hello, I’m a Brown Creeper” or “Hey, check me out. I’m a Brewer’s Sparrow.”

I replied, “We need primary color birds. Like a Vermilion Flycatcher. We for sure could ID the hell out of that bird.” (Because, in case you didn’t already guess, that bird is primarily bright red.)

Guess what happened a couple minutes after my primary colors plea? A bird flew overhead and into a tree right in front of us. Without any muss or fuss, Zippy and I identified a Western Tanager which looks like this:

Don’t worry, we’re not feeling too full of ourselves. While we did manage the identification, this isn’t exactly a great photo. Still, I wanted to celebrate the fact that once in a while the universe does listen and respond accordingly.