I heard and then began to feel, in my chest, a deep rhythmic whooshing

A few years ago in a forest in northeast India, I heard and then began to feel, in my chest, a deep rhythmic whooshing. It sounded meteorological, but it was the wingbeats of a pair of great hornbills flying in to land in a fruiting tree. They had massive yellow bills and hefty white thighs; they looked like a cross between a toucan and a giant panda. As they clambered around in the tree, placidly eating fruit, I found myself crying out with the rarest of all emotions: pure joy. It had nothing to do with what I wanted or what I possessed. It was the sheer gorgeous fact of the great hornbill, which couldn’t have cared less about me.

The radical otherness of birds is integral to their beauty and their value. They are always among us but never of us. They’re the other world-dominating animals that evolution has produced, and their indifference to us ought to serve as a chastening reminder that we’re not the measure of all things. The stories we tell about the past and imagine for the future are mental constructions that birds can do without. Birds live squarely in the present. And at present, although our cats and our windows and our pesticides kill billions of them every year, and although some species, particularly on oceanic islands, have been lost forever, their world is still very much alive. In every corner of the globe, in nests as small as walnuts or as large as haystacks, chicks are pecking through their shells and into the light.

~ Jonathan Franzen, from Why Birds Matter, and Are Worth Protecting (NatGeo, January 2018)


Photo of Great Hornbill by Roham Sheikholeslami

Miracle. All of it. (110 sec)


“The art of flying is a short film about “murmurations”: the mysterious flights of the Common Starling. It is still unknown how the thousands of birds are able to fly in such dense swarms without colliding. Every night the starlings gather at dusk to perform their stunning air show. Because of the relatively warm winter of 2014/2015, the starlings stayed in the Netherlands instead of migrating southwards.”

“The Art of Flying” by Jan van IJken


Related Posts: Miracle. All of it.

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


Source: Cherly Jong (Jakarta Pusat, Jakarta, Indonesia)

 

 

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


Notes:

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


Notes:

  • Photo 1: Migrating great white pelicans are fed at a water reservoir in Mishmar Hasharon, central Israel, as part of an Israeli Agriculture Ministry-funded project that aims to prevent the pelicans from feeding at commercial fish-breeding pools. (Photo by Ronen Zvulun, Reuters in wsj.com October 24, 2017 Photos of the Day)
  • Photo 2: Great White Pelicans gather to feed in Israel’s Hefer Valley on Wednesday. Israel’s ministry of agriculture says it will continue funding a project to feed thousands of Great White Pelicans who fly annually over the country. (Ariel Schalit, AP, October 18, 2017)

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call


Photo: by Toby Melville/Reuters from wsj.com – Thousands of wading birds flying onto sandbanks during high tide at The Wash estuary in Norfolk, England.

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Sometimes the call of a bird is so clear
it bruises my hands.

~ Joanna Klink, from “The Graves,” in Excerpts from a Secret Prophecy

Inspired by: The Ruby Throated Hummingbird, the smallest bird species that breeds in Canada and the US.


Notes:

  • Photo: via Your Eyes Blaze Out
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

Lightly Child, Lightly.

I wonder whether it is possible … to change oneself radically. Can I learn to control resentment and hostility, the ambivalence, born somewhere far below the conscious level? … There is nothing to be done but go ahead with life moment by moment and hour by hour—-put out birdseed, tidy the rooms, try to create order and peace around me even if I cannot achieve it inside me. Now at 10:30 there is such radiant light outside that the house feels dark. I look through the hall into the cozy room, all in darkness, right through to the window at the end, and a transparent sheaf of golden and green leaves. And here in my study the sunlight is that autumn white, so clear, it calls for an inward act to match it … clarify, clarify.

~ May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude


Notes:

  • Photo: Laura Makabresku with “birds” (via Mennyfox55)
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”
  • Related posts: May Sarton

 

I did my best to see the best in a bad situation (for 6 years!)

Two men released from al Qaeda captivity after six years in northern Mali made their first public appearances Thursday, recounting their ordeals. […] The extremists have made a fortune over the last decade abducting foreigners in the vast Sahel region and demanding enormous ransoms for their release.

When asked how they coped during their long years in the desert with their captors, Mr. Gustafsson said he converted to Islam “to save my life.” He said fleeing the extremists had been “out of the question.” He had been on a motorcycle tour of Africa when he was seized.

Mr. McGown, who said he also converted to Islam, said his captors gave him clothes, food and medication.

“I did my best to see the best in a bad situation,” he said. He described how he learned some Arabic to communicate and said he watched birds migrate “backwards and forwards” across the vast Sahara.

~ By Associated Press: excerpts from Men Who Were Held by al Qaeda Tell of Ordeal (wsj.com, August 10, 2017)


Photograph: Freed hostage Stephen McGown with his wife Catherine on Thursday. Photo by Gulshan Khan, Agence France-Presse

Miracle. All of it.

World’s smallest birds is just one of several distinctions that hummingbird species claim. They’re the only birds that can hover in still air for 30 seconds or more. They’re the only birds with a “reverse gear”—that is, they can truly fly backward. And they’re the record holders for the fastest metabolic rate of any vertebrate on the planet: A 2013 University of Toronto study concluded that if hummingbirds were the size of an average human, they’d need to drink more than one 12-ounce can of soda for every minute they’re hovering, because they burn sugar so fast. Small wonder that these birds will wage aerial dogfights to control a prime patch of nectar-laden flowers. […]

[Photo Caption] Hummingbirds often brave downpours to gather the nectar needed to avoid starvation. This Anna’s hummingbird shakes off rain as a wet dog does, with an oscillation of its head and body. According to researchers at UC Berkeley, each twist lasts four-hundredths of a second and subjects the bird’s head to 34 times the force of gravity. Even more remarkable: Hummingbirds can do this in flight as well as when perched.

~ Brendan Borrell, from Unlocking the Secrets behind the Hummingbird’s Frenzy (National Geographic Magazine, July, 2017)

Do not miss full story & photos taken with high speed cameras


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