The Journeys of Birds

migration19th Century
Museum of Modern Art, New Delhi

At least 4,000 species of bird are known to be regular migrants, which is about 40 percent of the total number of birds in the world.
(Although this number will likely increase as we learn more about the habits of birds in tropical regions.)

Birds can reach great heights as they migrate.
Bar-headed Geese are the highest-flying migratory birds, regularly reaching altitudes of up to five and a half miles above sea level while flying over the Himalayas in India.
But the bird with the record for the highest altitude ever is the Ruppel’s Griffon Vulture.

The Arctic Tern has the longest migration of any bird in the world. They can fly more than 49,700 miles in a year, making a round trip between their breeding grounds in the Arctic and the Antarctic, where they spend their winters.
Over a lifespan of more than 30 years, the flights can add up to the equivalent of three trips to the moon and back.

The Northern Wheatear travels up to 9,000 miles each way between the Arctic and Africa, giving it one of the largest ranges of any songbird.
What makes this an especially amazing feat is that the tiny bird weighs less than an ounce.

The Bar-tailed Godwit has the longest recorded non-stop flight, flying for nearly 7,000 miles, over eight days, without food or rest.

To prepare for the extremely taxing effort of migration, birds enter a state called hyperphagia, where they bulk up on food in the preceding weeks to store fat, which they’ll later use for energy on their long journeys.
Some, like the Blackpoll Warbler, almost double their body weight before flying 2,300 miles for 86 hours without stopping.

Even birds that don’t fly migrate.
Emus, the large Australian birds, often travel for miles on foot to find food, and many populations of Penguins migrate by swimming.

Migration can be terribly dangerous for birds, and they often don’t make it back to their starting point.
Sometimes natural occurrences like harsh weather play a role, but human activities are the cause of many deaths.
In the United States alone, up to one billion birds die each year from window collisions,
seven million from striking TV and radio towers.

http://www.audubon.org/birds
http://www.audubon.org/conservation

The Jay

Marshal_-_Purple_crocuses,_cloth_of_gold_crocus,_liverwort_(double_form),_poppy_anemones_and_jay

Purple crocuses, cloth of gold crocus, liverwort (double form), poppy anemones and jay Alexander Marshal (c. 1620 – 1682)

 

Because You Asked About the Line Between Prose and Poetry

sudek detailJosef Sudek (1876 – 1976)detail

 


Because You Asked About the Line Between Prose and Poetry

Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
That while you watched turned to pieces of snow
Riding a gradient invisible
From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.

There came a moment that you couldn’t tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell.


Howard Nemerov

Study Of A Rock Dove

Rock Dove UdineGiovanni Nanni (1487–1564)

Illuminated

gothic sketchbookSpätgotisches Musterbuch des Stephan Schriber – 1494

 

Elegy

Pisanello StorkPisanello (c. 1395 – c. 1455)

 

Elegy

True, it is strange to inhabit the earth no longer,
to use no longer customs scarcely acquired,
not to interpret roses, and other things
that promise so much, in terms of human future;
to be no longer all that one used to be
in endlessly anxious hands, and to lay aside
even one’s proper name like a broken toy.
Strange, not to go on wishing one’s wishes. Strange,
to see all that was once relation so loosely fluttering
hither and thither in space. And it’s hard, being dead,
and full of retrieving before one begins to espy
a trace of eternity.—Yes, but all of the living
make the mistake of drawing to sharp distinctions.
Angels, (they say) are often unable to tell
whether they move among the living or the dead. the eternal
torrent whirls all the ages through either realm
for ever, and sounds above their voices in both.
They’ve finally no more need of us, the early-departed,
one’s gently weaned from terrestrial things as one mildly
outgrows the breasts of a mother. But we, that have need of
such mighty secrets, we, for whom sorrow’s so often
source of blessedest progress, could we exist without them?
Is the story in vain, how once, in the mourning for Linos,
venturing earliest music pierced barren numbness, and how,
in the horrified space an almost deified youth
suddenly quitted for ever, emptiness first
felt the vibration that now charms us and comforts and helps?

Rainer Maria Rilke (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926) 

(translated from German by J.B. Leishman and Stephen Spender)

The Peacock

grassi peacockThe Sketchbook of Giovannino de’ Grassi  (Milano, circa 1350 – 1398)

Study Of A Flying Sparrow

Giovanni Nanni, also Giovanni de' Ricamatori, better known as Giovanni da Udine (1487–1564)

Giovanni Nanni, also Giovanni de’ Ricamatori, better known as Giovanni da Udine (1487–1564)

Carl Sagan, upon contemplating the rarity of life in the known universe said,

“The earth is a meadow in the sky . . .”
“If we ruin the earth, there is no place else to go”   ―

Stork

Albrecht Dürer (21 May 1471 – 6 April 1528) German painter, printmaker, engraver, mathematician, and theorist

Albrecht Dürer (21 May 1471 – 6 April 1528)
Painter, printmaker, engraver, mathematician, and theorist.

Storks have no syrinx and are mute.
They use soaring, gliding flight, which requires thermal air currents, to conserve energy.  Photographs of storks by Ottomar Anschütz inspired the design of Otto Lilienthal’s experimental gliders of the late 19th century.
Their nests sometimes grow to more than six feet in diameter and ten feet in depth.
Storks were thought to be monogamous which is partly true. They may change mates after migrations, and may migrate without a mate. They tend to be attached to nesting places as much as partners.
Their size, serial monogamy, and faithfulness to an established nesting site contribute to the prominence of storks in culture and in mythology.
W.

Blue Heron

Mark Catesby (1682/83 – 1749)

 

 

Published in: on August 15, 2011 at 6:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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