Birds Archives

Wednesday noon art break


Vincent van Gogh, The Green Parrot, 1886


Vincent van Gogh, Wheatfield with Crows, 1890

Source: I Require Art

Monday Morning Inspiration: Bird Happy Hour

bird torpedoI very much enjoy this time of year when the bird happy hour begins around 5:15 a.m., usually with a Northern Cardinal kicking things off. May Sarton describes it well in The House by the Sea: A Journal:

I am in an ecstasy of birds and their plummeting flight past the terrace. It is very thrilling when a bird closes its wings and shoots along like a torpedo through the air. The elusive oriole is everywhere now, in and out of maple flowers and apple blossom. But I rarely catch sight of him. I miss the white-throated sparrow…has he not returned? The mourning doves settle under the bird feeder, half a dozen at a time, and when disturbed make a lovely rustling whirr as they fly off. But it is now no single bird but the sense of congregations everywhere in the air and in the trees that makes the thrill. Out in the field the killdeer give their sharp peep, and the tree swallows go scooting around in the evening. The air they inhabit with such grace is intoxicating in itself, cool and gentle. What days!”

Sunday afternoon reflection on irises and plastic pink flamingos

mailboxToday neighbor Tom posted on Facebook this photo he took of our mailbox a few years ago. It is nice to see the irises (yes, those are irises painted on the mailbox too), because this year these irises aren’t blooming. It seems I inadvertently mowed over them while mowing around the mailbox earlier in the spring to try to mow down weeds. Oops. Fortunately the backyard irises are doing fine.

The irises in the photo are from a batch of iris bulbs we acquired from the parents of my high school best friend after attending her high school graduation party. At all the residences both my parents and I and my family have lived since then, even including one of the college rentals I lived in, we have planted iris bulbs that are descendants from that original batch. The irises have lasted longer than that friendship, but they still symbolize friendship for me, and bring to mind what David Whyte wrote about friendship in Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words:

All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness. Without tolerance and mercy all friendships die.

..Friendship is a moving frontier of understanding not only of the self and the other but also, of a possible and as yet unlived, future.

…Friendship transcends disappearance: an enduring friendship goes on after death, the exchange only transmuted by absence, the relationship advancing and maturing in a silent internal conversational way even after one half of the bond has passed on.

…the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self, the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.

We planted these irises back in the early 1990s in Madison at the flat my husband and I lived in at the time. The wife of the landlord saw the irises in bloom one May and told me that irises are the national symbol of mental health. Their son was bipolar so irises were meaningful to her. After she told me that I started looking at her son more compassionately (he was a neighbor that wasn’t always easy to get along with) and it also gave me a greater appreciation for the irises.

V__ADE7Finally, these irises remind me of endurance. The mailbox irises will show “tolerance and mercy” and bloom again next year, so I don’t have to berate myself for this year’s sloppy gardening. In the meantime, these pink plastic flamingos my daughters gave me for my birthday today will pick up the slack.



The white-throated sparrows are in Monona

16611860084_628b134184_qThe white-throated sparrows arrived on Wednesday, April 22, for their annual spring visit.

I’ve been hearing their whistles every morning. They will remain another week or two before heading north for the summer to raise their young. I scattered millet in the backyard for them to feast on as they replenish their energy stores for the final leg of their spring migration.

The Baltimore Orioles will arrive in a week or so. Today my youngest daughter and I perused the various Oriole feeders and nectar at Mounds and may invest in a new Oriole feeder this year.

Now that the white-throated sparrows are here, it means that, for me, spring has officially arrived. I always mark the seasons by the comings and goings of birds, rather than by flora.

Speaking of flora, the redbud tree that my father planted in our front yard several years ago is dead. The last couple of springs were hard on it; it would begin to blossom during early spring warm days and then inevitably the weather would turn cold again. Last year this had the effect of the tree not fully leafing out.

It seems its optimism did the tree in. If only it had known to wait until the arrival of the white-throated sparrows each spring, then it could have blossomed in safety each year.



Any Monona birders out there?

Thanks to my recent discovery of the Wisconsin Birding group on Facebook, I’ve become more aware of the wide variety of birds in the area.  People post photos  and the whereabouts of the birds they see. For example, in early November there was a post about a Snowy Owl that made a cameo appearance in Madison. Unfortunately I didn’t see the post in time to go visit the owl before it moved on. I’m still kicking myself over that.

I’ve also discovered that birders like to use the eBird site to keep track of the birds they see. You can view these lists on the map.

I couldn’t help but notice, however, that the Monona map doesn’t have many postings even though there must be a lot of people here interested in birds.

If you’re a Monona birder I hope you’ll check out eBird and/or the Wisconsin Birders group and let us know about the Monona birds you see.

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