"One only has to consider the life force packed tight into that puff of feathers to lay the mind wide open to the mysteries - the order of things, the why and the beginning. As we contemplate that sanderling, there by the shining sea, one question leads inevitably to another, and all questions come full circle to the questioner, paused momentarily in his own journey under the sun and sky." - Peter Matthiessen, The Wind Birds
It is the Vernal Equinox today, one of the two days of the year when, briefly, we have the same photo period as the rest of the world. But for the next six months here in the High Arctic we'll have more sun than everyone south of us, pretty much the all of the world. The lengthening days mean our birds will soon return, more days will be spent outside, less time will be spent reading other's words about the Wild.
This I and the Bird is a celebration of other's words (and images) of the world's birds, primarily through the posts of the amazingly diverse I and the Bird blogging community, but also through some equally celebrated authors, bonvivants and others of note. So pause a moment, and consider this life, these birds, and this briefest of moments on our journey under the sun and sky.
"Sitting down on a block of granite, it was delightful to watch the various insects and birds as they flew past." - Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle
"No Poem, no painting, no work of man's hand or brain is as marvelous a thing as the least of the species of living beings that inhabit the earth. Each one... is a miracle as far beyond our comprehension as the stars. We cannot make them, we cannot understand how they were made. To destroy one... to wipe out a whole species... for all eternity, is to do so colossal a thing that the mind falters at the thought." - Herbert Ravenel Sass, On the Wings Of a Bird
Matt of Birder's World blog, Field of View tells us of California's Forgotten, Flightless Seaduck, Chendytes lawi, a waterfowl that disappeared a scant 2400 years ago. And who ever knew that there really was such a thing as Sabretooth Salmon?
"It is an old story with a new interest. The birds have lived, and we have lived to meet again the old scenes. They bring us once more to the assurance of the unfailing return of spring, and the never-ending joy and fecundity of life." - John Burroughs, The Familiar Bird
"Four ducks on a pond,
A grass-bank beyond,
A blue sky of spring,
White clouds on the wing,
What a little thing
To remember for years -
To remember with tears" - William Allingham, Four Ducks on a Pond.
"The screech and mechanical uproar of the big city turns the citified head, fills citified ears - as the song of birds, wind in the trees, animal cries, or as the voices and songs of loved ones once filled his heart. He is sidewalk-happy." - Frank Lloyd Wright, The Living City.
"No sadder song salutes you than the clear
Wild laughter of the loon" - Celia Thaxter, Seaward
Greg Laden's blog, strangely entitled Greg Laden's Blog, is home to his tales of some of his encounters with loons, but sadly segues into a report on Mercury toxicity in Common Loons. Yes, The Loonacy Must Stop.
"There were three Ravens sat on a tree,
They were as black as they might be.
The one of them said to his make,
'Where shall we our breakfast take?'" - Unattributed Ballad, The Three Ravens
One of the posts I've nominated comes from Nick who writes the blog Saskatchewan Birds, Nature and Scenery. Nicks posts are filled with great photos but I chose a post about my favourite bird, and a very early nesting attempt - Four Ravens Born in Winter.
"The Raven is big, black, and beautiful. Its highly glossed plumage shows iridescent greens, blues, and purples, shining like a black dewdrop in the light. And it dives and rolls like a black thunderbolt out of the sky or speeds along with liquid, gliding strokes. The Raven is the paragon of the air, and more." - Bernd Heinrich, Ravens in Winter.
Another nominated post is Kate Nova's I Forgot What I Was Looking For. Kate, a fellow Nunavumiut blogger and friend, writes the wonderful Port Town Ghosts. Not a nature blogger per se, go revel in what she found.
"You like Potato and I like Potahto
You like Tomato and I like Tomahto
Potato, Potahto, Tomato, Tomahto
Let's call the whole thing off" - Ira Gershwin, Let's Call The Whole Thing Off
Mike, the tireless genius behind I and The Bird and one third of the inestimable blogger team behind 10,000 Birds, wants to know just how you pronounce the name of that beautiful bird with the big feet in his Jacana Pronunciation Poll.
"Touched by the magic spell, the sacred fountains of feeling
Glowed with the light of love, as the skies and waters around her.
Then from a neighboring thicket the mocking-bird, wildest of singers,
Swinging aloft on a willow spray that hung o'er the water,
Shook from his little throat such floods of delirious music,
That the whole air and the woods and the waves seemed silent to listen.
Plaintive at first were the tones and sad; then soaring to madness
Seemed they to follow or guide the revel of frenzied Bacchantes." - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline: A Tale OF Acadie
"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book! - Henry David Thoreau, Walden
The Birder's Library, as one might surmise from the title, deals with two of my favourite passions, birds and books. Not surprisingly, one of these passions led to the other as Grant tells us How The Sibley Guide Made Me A Birder: A Birding Testimony.
"At once a voice rose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom."- Thomas Hardy, The Darkling Thrush
"I believe that there is a kind of poetry, even a kind of truth, in simple fact... Language makes a mighty loose net with which to go fishing for simple facts, when facts are infinite. If a man knew enough he could write a whole book about the juniper tree." - Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire: A Season In the Wilderness
I make no secret of the fact that I think nuthatch, of bootstrap analysis (my blogmom) is the best science/nature blogger among us. She was my inspiration to start blogging, and hasn't been active enough for my tastes lately. I happy that she is sharing with us her looking for bo'wings.
"Nothing is wasted, nothing is in vain
The seas roll over but the rocks remain" - A.P. Herbert, Tough at the Top (operetta)
"I hope you love birds, too. It is economical. It saves going to Heaven." - Emily Dickinson, The Single Hound
Dave, who lives somewhere Around Anchorage, is the webmaster and blogger for the Bird Treatment and Learning Centre (Bird TLC for short). They love birds there and take great care of them, be it dozens of eagles trapped in salmon offal, or operating on a lone Bald Eagle while Some People Go To MacDonald's For Lunch.
"Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need." - Emily Dickinson, Success Is Counted Sweetest
"Secrets lurk on all sides. There is news in every bush. What no man ever saw before may the next moment be revealed to you. What a new interest the woods have! How you long to explore every nook and corner of them!" - John Burroughs, Wake-Robin
"The bird seeks the tree, not the tree the bird." - Mexican proverb.
"Joys come from simple and natural things, mists over meadows, sunlight on leaves, the path of the moon over water. Even rain and wind and stormy clouds bring joy, just as knowing animals and flowers and where they live. Such things are where you find them, and belong to the aware and the alive. They require little scientific knowledge, but bring in their train an ecological perspective, and a way of looking at the world." - Sigurd F. Olson. Open Horizons
"I meant to do my work today -
But a brown bird sang in the appletree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me." - Richard Le Gallienne, The Lonely Dancer
"The world acquired a new interest when birds appeared for the presence of birds at any time is magical in effect. They are magicians that transform that transform every scene; make of every desert a garden of delights." - Charles C. Abbott, Days Out of Doors
"Did St. Francis preach to the birds? Whatever for? If he really liked birds he would have done better to preach to the cats." - Rebecca West, This Real Night
Rob Fergus, The Birdchaser, knows that domestic cats that are allowed to roam outdoors are a significant cause of bird mortality. Pet cats should be kept inside, and if you want to Save birds, play with your cat!
"My way is to seize an image that moment it has formed in my mind, to trap it as a bird and to pin it at once to canvas. Afterward I start to tame it, to master it. I bring it under control and I develop it."- Joan Miro
"There is ever a lurking suspicion that the beginning of things is in some way associated with water, and one may notice that in his private walks he is led by a curious attraction to fetch all the springs and ponds in his route, as if by them was the place for wonders and miracles to happen." - John Burroughs, Wake-Robin
"The wild geese were passing over... There was an infinite cold passion in their flight, like the passion of the universe, a proud mystery never to be solved." - Martha Ostenso, Wild Geese
Carolyn lives in a cabin on Roundtop Mountain in Pennsylvania where she writes Roundtop Ruminations. Last Night the Geese Flew North, and we're richer for having Carolyn to witness and write about it.
"There is a peculiar virtue in the music of elusive birds... What one remembers is the invisible Hermit Thrush pouring silver cords from impenetrable shadows; the soaring crane trumpet from behind a cloud; the prairie chicken booming from the mists of nowhere; the quail's Ave Maria in the hush of dawn." - Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
John Carlson and I have both birded the dumps of Ushuaia Argentina, literally the dumps, which is how he found the House and I found his blog Prairie Ice. He can normally be found on the prairies of Montana, but is temporarily Trading Places for the Sonoran Desert.
"...that ghostly, haunting, wailing "oh-h-h, oh-h-h-h, ooh-ooh." Like a woman crying hopelessly, endlessly. Like a baby bear who has lost his mother. Like the faint far-off foghorn of a ship at sea. Like the mournful sigh of a wind in a pine tree." - Theodora C. Stanwell-Fletcher, Driftwood Valley
The Drinking Bird, the blog of N8 from NC, is a fine blog and the best way to keep up with N8's NC BY. In Loony Tunes he tells us of one of his last efforts to find winter birds which include two species of loons.
"The flamingoes are the most delicately coloured of all the African birds, pink and red like a flying twig of an oleander bush." - Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa
Its not Africa, but Tai Haku lives, works and plays in a tropical paradise (so we don't have to) and blogs in Earth, Wind & Water. He shares with us some lovely photos of delicately coloured Flamingoes turning Pink Pirouettes.
Nights of watching, when every fallen leaf is a sentinel and every moonbeam a spy, will let us into some secrets about the ponds and fields that the sun, old and all-seeing as he is, will never know." - Dallas Lore Sharp, A Watcher In The Woods
I first found John's delightful DC Birding Blog a long while ago (so long ago it was still in DC). Now that he's in New Jersey he's been off in Franklin Township finding a life Short-eared Owl, after sunset in Franklin Shorties.
"I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after. - Wallace Stevens, Thirteen Ways of Looking At a Blackbird
"Why are not more gems from our great authors scattered over the country? Great books are not in everybody's reach; and though it is better to know them thoroughly than to know them only here and there, yet it is a good work to give a little to those who have neither the time nor means to get more. Let every bookworm, when... he discovers a sentence, a story, an illustration, that does his heart good, hasten to give it." - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Julie, the author of Pines Above Snow, is another blogger who likes to celebrate the passions of books and natural history. She shares with us her discoveries contained within Audubon magazine in Audubon Arrivals.
"The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common... To the wise, therefore, a fact is true poetry, and the most beautiful of fables." - Ralph Waldo Emerson, The essay Prospect
Which brings us almost to the end of The Quotable I and the Bird, leaving only my post from The House and other Arctic musings which finds me pining for more feathered colour in my world, a Splash of Blue. The quote? It is embedded in the post, e.e. cummings reading crazy jay blue)
"I like deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." - Douglas Adams
The deadline for the next I and the Bird is April Fools Day, April 1st 2008. It will be hosted by Ecobirder. Send your submissions to him by email to tiercel63 AT yahoo DOT com or to Mike at 10,000 Birds.
Many of the blogs you read today in this issue of I and The Bird belong to the Nature Blog Network. You'll find many more great nature blogs there, and if you blog natural history and haven't already joined the Nature Blog Network you should.