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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in birds

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
WREN FAMILY: The Mysteries of Happiness

Wrens, a family of little brown Birds, are well-known for their high energy and trilling songs. Friendly and active, House Wren is often called “Jenny Wren” in children’s storybooks. Meanwhile Carolina Wren, one of the largest Wrens, flits from perch to perch looking for tasty bugs, delighting gardeners.

Voracious in their nesting endevours, Wrens build nests in boots, mailboxes, and even car radiators. Quick and agile Cactus Wren builds his nest amongst the sharp spines of a cactus. To impress the Female Wrens, Marsh Wren frantically builds as many dummy nests that He can in the wetlands. The scientific name for Wrens is “Troglodytidae,” which means “cave dwellers.” This comes from the elaborate enclosed nests that many Wrens build. Besides housing eggs, these roofed nests also act as their communal roosts.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The time of birds

It’s the first day of December, and most of the leaves are now down from the trees where I live. There’s one little ash tree that is, somehow, still mostly green but the yellows are creeping in there, too. It’s been a matter of weeks since enough leaves fell from the horsechestnut to reveal the bird feeder I put there last year.

During the summer, bird watching is a difficult activity because there’s so much cover. Seeing a whole bird isn’t easy unless you can put up a bird table and lure them out into the open. In years when I’ve been able to do that, it’s still not been easy to see birds in summer because most of them prefer to be in the trees or out in the fields. I’ve noticed that birds tend to return to urban gardens in the winter, they’ve got wise to bird feeders.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Drunkenness of Birds

Yesterday there were no robins. Today, right on cue—the first day of spring—they're everywhere.

The birds are back, and busily pairing off. Last week I heard the first mourning dove. Today I saw two of them, back in the mulberry tree where they always nest—if one can grace with the name “nest” a few twigs tossed together into the fork of a branch. Actually, there were three doves in the tree, but I'm afraid the third is going to have to look elsewhere. Reputation aside—and they really do lay up to 6 clutches a year—doves are monogamous.

The robins are pairing off too. So are the sparrows and the newly-returned starlings. The branches of the City of Trees are filled with flirtations and love-chases. Mating: the real March Madness.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_Nebamun-2.jpgMore than 50 ancient hieroglyphs depict birds: ibis, quail chick, hawk, vulture, duck, plover, goose, swallow, sparrow, cormorant, egret, ostrich, heron, flamingo, lapwing, hoopoe, guinea hen and falcon, plus variations on each of these.  It’s a veritable feast for modern bird lovers; tomb paintings like Nebamun hunting are still more delightful, showing the teeming color of life in the Nile marshes. 

Egyptian cosmology is closely tied to birds, too.  During Sep Tepi (sacred time), a bird of light flies out of the dark waters of Nun and lands on the primordial mound called the benben. This bird was thought to be an early form of Ra, and Herodotus thought the bennu was the phoenix of later Greek myth, the firebird which rises reborn from its own ashes. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
White Snow, Black Branch, Red Bird

Sunday morning, February 15th, 6:55 a. m. I've just heard a sound I haven't heard since before Samhain. That's why I'm wearing this silly (my father would say “shit-eating”) grin.

Birdsong.

Here in southern Minnesota we're back in deep freeze. After an all-too-brief Bridey's Spring, the interstellar cold has returned, deep space cold, the cold between the stars. In a landscape drained of color and sound, Winter reigns Interminable.

Then suddenly a red bird sings outside the window, and spring seems possible.

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  • Anne Forrester
    Anne Forrester says #
    Gods, did this make me happy. What Cheer! What Cheer!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Song of the Crow Man

he wold com to my hows top in the shape of a crow, or lyk a dear or in any uther shap now and then, I wold ken his woice at the first heiring of it, and wold goe forth to him and hav carnall cowpula[tio]n w[i]th him 

  [Scottish witch Isobel Gowdie, of the Devil (1662)]

For just a moment, I thought that somehow I'd driven onto a set from Hitchcock's The Birds.

Sunset, Christmas Eve 2000. In the stillness of the Yule-frith, the only things moving were me and the stoplights, as I drove to work in downtown Minneapolis.

And the crows. Thousands of crows, literally, filling the trees that lined Park Avenue. Hundreds, raucous black fruit, in each tree, silhouetted against the sunset sky. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Devil's Bird

The Mothers and Fathers reckoned the Horned One as god of animal life generally—what, in History of Religions lingo, is known as a “Master of Animals”—but for all that, he is rarely ascribed a sacred bird of his own. Birds, of course, are given mostly to the Sky Powers: raptors to Thunder, water-birds to Sun and Moon, etc. It's fascinating that these embodiers of the animal god's being should be given to other gods, as if they somehow constitute his yearning for them, as Earth's quartz yearns to the Moon. But to Himself the lore alots the merest avian handful: corvids, perhaps the peacock (see below), the robin (as Promethean bringer-of-fire) and, of course, the cock.

Everyone knows that the rooster—I suppose one really must say “cock” here—is the Devil's bird, (“Men call me the Devil,” he is reputed to have told Scots witch Isobel Gowdie, “but they know not what they mean”), and better it be if it's black. It's a staple of Southern (American) folklore that to invoke the Devil you sacrifice a black cock at a crossroads at midnight. Why a cock? Standard etiology would have it that the cock, being preeminently the bird that proclaims the coming of light, is the sworn enemy of the Prince of Darkness, Enemy of Light. But, as one might expect, matters are considerably more complex than that.

The domestic chicken originated in Southeast Asia and, it would seem, first came to the British Isles with the Romans (Yeates 166). Nonetheless, one finds the cock's head associated with the Horned One on the coinage of the Dobunni, the Keltic tribe that in later days morphed into the Hwicce, the “Tribe of Witches.” The rooster has a reputation as the most virile and pugnacious of birds, a fitting emblem for the father and protector of the people, the Pater Hwicciorum (Yeates 165-9). (Interestingly, though, the use of “cock” for “penis” derives, not from the name of the bird, but from the sense of “water-tap.”)

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