Monday, July 22, 2013

Birds as a muse

I am spending some time photographing my muses this week - bees and birds. Birds are a particular favorite. I admire hawks because they are powerful and have such a commanding presence. When they perch up high on a branch or light post, everything on land runs for the cover and the small song birds take silent refuge. Here is a photo of a hawk after taking down a squirrel.

2009 Hawk with Squirrel

Crows are another favorite. There are mischievous, dark, elegant. Unlike hawks, they are not solitary. Some crows live in flocks called murders and musters, nesting in tree tops. There are sentinels that warn of danger. These animals have a complex language. Other crows are solitary or live in pairs. These birds are highly intelligent, adaptable and omnivorous. They can be taught to communicate with people and to count.

2005, Crows at the Louvre

Probably most favorite bird is the Purple Martin. They are the largest of the North American swallows. Purple Martins are extremely dependent on human-provided nest boxes.

2013, Purple Martins

Knowing this fact, I am reminded how interdependent we are to other living creatures. Purple martins remind us that we cannot live alone. All life needs other life to survive. In the natural world, no organism is cut off from its surroundings. Organisms are a part of their environment which is rich in living and non-living elements that interact with each other in some way. The interactions of a species with its environment is vital to its survival, and the functioning of the ecosystem as a whole. Purple martins with their dependence on us for their housing reminds me of this.

2013, Purple Martins

In exchange for their rent, purple martins forage high about the ground and over the water. They eat a variety of insects- stinkbugs, cicades, dragonflies, grasshoppers, and wasps. Martins are generalists, and do not specialize in taking just one or two types of insects, to the exclusion of others. The best part of the hunt is watching the birds soar so high - sometimes even out of sight. 

2013, Purple Martins

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