Archive for the ‘Birdwatching’ Category

“Dark-Eyed Junco on the Bridge” by Jane Beal

I cross over a bridge with silver railings
into another world. As I am crossing, I notice you,
sitting on silver, watching me, and my heart
goes out to you with love, little angel –

as you fall from a great height,
then catch the wind with your wings
and soar into the twilight sky over
the endless waters of the San Francisco Bay.

Jane Beal
Uncaged (in progress)

deju_tg_l

Red-Necked Grebe

Non-BreedingRedNeckedGrebe

Red-Necked Grebe
(non-breeding)

spotted from the Wharf in Santa Cruz

Birds in Natural Bridges State Park

Yesterday, I visited Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz, California. I saw three sharp-shinned hawks flying between tall trees, a California Gull by the ocean, and a hummingbird, a bushtit, and a Great White Egret in a green pond beside the Butterfly Sanctuary. A few monarchs fluttered here and here, and two were definitely flirting with each other, and it was all very beautiful to see — although poison oak was thriving everywhere, even interwoven with flowering blackberry brambles and growing through the railing of the walkway!

GreatWhiteEgret

Great White Egret

(a song from “The Jazz Bird” by Jane Beal & Andrew Beal)

 

“Lincoln’s Sparrow by the Napa River”

Muddy river, tall grass, Lincoln’s sparrow singing –
I pause at the sound, lean on the railing, and look:

I see you, tiny and beautiful,
but when you see me,
you stop singing.

Sing again, little one –
I am walking away, and you
are safe in the world!

Jane Beal
Uncaged (in progress)

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 8.17.56 AM

“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

Birds Can Smell

gabriellenevittFor a long time, scientists believed that birds could not smell. However, Dr. Gabrielle Nevitt conclusively proves otherwise in her research.

My specialty is olfaction – the sense of smell – and much of my research has focused on exploring how marine birds and fishes use smell in the natural environment. I have worked in areas ranging from olfactory homing in salmon, to olfactory foraging, navigation and individual recognition in birds, and in particular, petrels and albatrosses … 2016_lsh_nevittWhile most of my work has focused on the procellariiforms, I am broadly interested in the sense of smell in birds. Birds use chemical cues for a variety of behaviors, but olfaction and taste are largely ignored in behaviors from foraging to communication and sexual selection. nevittgabrielle179We were among the first groups to show odor-mediated individual recognition in birds. Long-lived Antarctic prions recognize the odor of their mates (Bonadonna and Nevitt 2004, Science) and leach’s storm-petrel chicks can recognize the individual odor signature of their nest (O’Dwyer et al. 2008). In collaboration with Henri Weimerskirch of CNRS / France, we were the first to apply high-resolution tracking to investigate the sensory basis for foraging in albatrosses. Our work shows that wandering albatross hunt by smell and can detect prey from kilometers away. (Nevitt et al. 2008, PNAS, Cover story).


BIRDS CAN SMELL
by Nancy Averett

Yet changing long-held beliefs takes time, and the scientific community is no exception. Dozens of Nevitt’s grant proposals have been rejected because of the birds-can’t-smell fallacy. A program officer once called to say her application was the worst he’d ever seen. “Your idea that birds can smell is ridiculous,”he said. “This will never be funded, so stop wasting your time.” She ignored him, and her perseverance and inventive methods have inspired others who share her fascination … Nevitt, Hagelin, and other avian olfaction trailblazers have pushed past criticism, failure, and even bodily injury in their quest to disprove one of biology’s most pervasive myths. “In science,” says Nevitt, “we rediscover the obvious sometimes.”

For more, see:

http://www.audubon.org/magazine/january-february-2014/birds-can-smell-and-one-scientist

“All the Birds on Christmas Day” by Jane Beal

I didn’t know the birds were weeping.
They might have been singing praise!

The black phoebe, the hummingbird,
the distant geese I heard –

I thought they were a choir
for the most extraordinary birthday

the world has ever known.
But maybe the Great White Egret

standing on the side of the freeway,
not wading in the wetland waters

should have been my clue
that there is no joy on earth

not mingled
with lingering grief.

jb

12/25
Davis & HWY 37

blackphoebe

LISTEN: “Haunting” (Great White Egret)