Archive for the ‘Bird Observations’ Category

“A Hawk with a Fish” by Jane Beal

ahawkwithafish

a hawk with a fish

my parents tell my Omi –

just like a picture

jb

Walnut Creek, CA

Haiku for the Beginning of the Journey

SeagullsinaVFormation

seagulls were flying

in the sky overhead when

I left Meadowridge

jb

Davis, CA

Yellow-Billed Stork

ThreeYellowBilledStorksThis morning, I woke up and prayed for my day. I was reminded, as I read a devotional by Sarah Young in Jesus Always, that I have a tendency to rush into my day with a strong desire to tidy up all the small details that seem to desperately need attending to — only, maybe, they don’t. I was reminded that sometimes I trust God when “big things” are on the horizon, but with the small things, I tend to rely on myself. Why not stop? Why not rely on God in everything, for everything?

I went for my morning walk in a state of happiness. I looked around at how beautiful everything, everywhere, is — with a deep inner awareness that God, the Creator, has made it all. It makes me feel so thankful! Words began to come to me for a new poem, for a new collection of poems:  a collection of psalms. I was filled with a sense of awe and amazement that I was getting a new idea, a heavenly inspiration, right there and then!

Part of it, I know, is a great working together of many things:  later today, I will be teaching about the book of Psalms in my Old Testament class at Epic Bible College and Graduate School. I taught a series of classes on the Psalms at my church, and before that, I taught an online course on the Psalms for a university in Colorado. The work of Hassell Bullock, my Hebrew teacher at Wheaton College, in his book, Encountering the Psalms, has opened my understanding of the Psalms. I’ve read the Psalms almost everyday of my life, and the Spirit of the Living God has opened my heart to himself through the words of ancient Israelite singers. I love the Psalms. The word “psalm” was the first word my father tried to teach me when I was a baby.

MyYellowBilledStork

My Yellow-Billed Stork, reflected in the Nile, Uganda (September 2013)

When I came home from my walk, I wrote four psalms for a new poetry collection! I did it with a wonderful sense of inspiration and excitement, thinking of the main poetic devices used in the Hebrew Psalms:  not rhyme and meter, so frequently used in English poetry, but repetition and parallelism. The third psalm I wrote was about God’s creatures that I had seen in Uganda when I traveled through the savanna and up the Nile River to see Murchison Falls:  the goal of a brief pilgrimage.

As I was writing, I was trying to remember what I had seen. Some animals I remembered vividly, but I knew there was more than I could recall. So I went back to my digital photographs, and as I was looking through them, I saw one in which a bird was standing by the side of the water. I thought to myself:  that looks like a stork. The picture was blurry. I enlarged the image of the bird. I was sure it was a stork. Its markings were distinct. How had I not identified this bird in this photo before now?

I did a Google search on African birds, and I discovered this one’s name:  Mycteria ibis, the Yellow-Billed Stork! I was delighted. I added it to my life-list. It’s hard to believe that I saw a bird of such distinct splendor, and only identified it from my own photo three years later!!



 

PSALM 3
Now I See a Yellow-Billed Stork

Lord, I see an elephant with long tusks
alone on the savanna –

I see giraffes with long necks
striding together in the morning.

I see hippos in the Nile
and a kingfisher flying in midair –

I see a mother monkey
who carries her baby on her back.

I see a water buffalo,
and he sees me!

I see a wild warthog
trotting away through the trees.

Now I see a yellow-billed stork
standing in the river-shallows.

O Lord, how marvelous is every creature
You have made!

jb

p.s. Maybe I will call this new collection something like
Psalms for the God of Birds.

“The Dipper” by Mary Oliver

AmericanDipper

Once I saw
in a quick-falling, white-veined stream,
among the leafed islands of the wet rocks,
a small bird, and knew it

from the pages of a book; it was
the dipper, and dipping he was,
as well as, sometimes, on a rock-peak, starting up
the clear, strong pipe of his voice; at this,

there being no words to transcribe, I had to
bend forward, as it were,
into his frame of mind, catching
everything I could in the tone,

cadence, sweetness, and briskness
of his affirmative report.
Though not by words, it was
a more than satisfactory way to the

bridge of understanding. This happened
in Colorado
more than half a century ago—
more, certainly, than half my lifetime ago—

and, just as certainly, he has been sleeping for decades
in the leaves beside the stream,
his crumble of white bones, his curl of flesh
comfortable even so.

And still I hear him—
and whenever I open the ponderous book of riddles
he sits with his black feet hooked to the page,
his eyes cheerful, still burning with water-love—

and thus the world is full of leaves and feathers,
and comfort, and instruction. I do not even remember
your name, great river,
but since that hour I have lived

simply,
in the joy of the body as full and clear
as falling water; the pleasures of the mind
like a dark bird dipping in and out, tasting and singing.

Mary Oliver

Note: On Thursday, July 6th, I gave a poetry reading at the John Natsoulas Gallery in downtown Davis. Afterwards, I was pleased to sit down and talk with Steve, a poet and a bird-watcher like myself. He mentioned this poem, “The Dipper,” by Mary Oliver in our conversation. Mary Oliver first saw the bird in Colorado, where Steve had also seen it. Though I have lived in Colorado, I have not yet seen the American Dipper in situ, bobbing and fishing in nature’s favorite stream. However, I have had a preview! The little bird is simply delightful.

p.s. John Muir loved the bird, which he called a water-thrush. He wrote of it: “THE waterfalls of the Sierra are frequented by only one bird, —the Ouzel or Water Thrush ( Cinclus Mexicanus). He is a singularly joyous and lovable little fellow, about the size of a robin, clad in a plain waterproof suit of bluish gray, with a tinge of chocolate on the head and shoulders. In form he is about as smoothly plump and compact as a pebble that has been whirled in a pot-hole, the flowing contour of his body being interrupted only by his strong feet and bill, the crisp wing-tips, and the up-slanted wren-like tail.”

730 Birds of North America in ONE Chart

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 7.01.03 AM

To zoom in and see the birds close up,

visit Co.Design Infographic

“Baby Chicks in Larkspur” by Jane Beal

I went to Larkspur to have lunch with my friend
at a Thai food place with great coconut soup,

and while we were there, we heard music,
and followed it into a parade of people

celebrating spring, new life, and everything –
including baby chicks in a silver bucket

being adored by small children who were torn
between the birds and a tiny carousel

with horses painted bright
and beautifully.

jb

Uncaged (in progress)

“A Distressed Duck” by Jane Beal

She was a beautiful mallard –
brown and white with a patch of dark blue
side-feathers, orange feet, and an orange beak.

She was hungry, and she was hunting,
her beak dipping into the grass,
but coming up empty.

She began to cry in distress,
making an awful sound,
and I wanted to help her.

I wished I had bread in my bag,
but I didn’t, so I tried to soothe her
with kind and gentle words.

She didn’t run, but walked away,
still dipping her beak left and right,
still coming up empty, still crying. 

At the corner, I had to turn one way,
and she another, but I glanced back:
two students had noticed her

and one of them was mocking
that awful sound she was making,
and the student suddenly lunged at the duck,

frustrated by that sound, but the other student
stopped her friend and said, “No,
don’t scare her.”

Jane Beal
Uncaged (in progress)

FemaleMallard.jpg