“Birds with Human Souls”

    A delightful book called Birds with Human Souls, A Guide to Bird Symbolism (Beryl Rowland, 1978) was given me by a dear friend (Cindy! You!). Amongst many a wonder, it tells of ancient Athenian coins on which “a chubby, smiling goddess with a plain helmet appeared with a well-groomed, self-confident owl.”
    It mentions the great flock of owl coins produced from the Laureotic silver mines, and quotes the most charming depiction of financial prosperity I’ve ever read:

Little Laureotic owlets
Shall be always flocking in:
You shall find them all about you,
As the dainty brood increases,
Building nests within your purses;
Hatching little silver pieces.

              ~ Aristophanes, The Birds, c. 414 BC

May many dear little owlets roost with us all during the coming year...

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Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 10:02 AM

(Click on image to visit Okhla Bird Park preservation petition)

'What are humans without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast also happens to man. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.'

  ~ Chief Seattle, letter to President Franklin Pierce, 1855

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Protecting Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Photographer Anand Arya

Purple Sunbird (click on the image to visit the preservation Petition)

Kind Friends,
    These photographs were taken by photographer Anand Arya at the Okhla Bird Park & Wild Life Sanctuary in India. This Sanctuary, home to almost 400 species and some 25,000 plus birds at peak migration, is now threatened by adjacent construction. Anand Arya and a colleague have filed a petition with the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, New Delhi, to preserve the sanctuary. They need the support of all who care.
    This is a particularly well thought out, intelligently composed and informative petition.
    The numbers are modest so far, friends; I believe we might actually make a difference in the preservation of this place, glorious and fragile. I would urge -- nay, beg -- everyone to take a moment and sign Anand's petition at: Protect Okhla Bird Sanctuary
    Damage to a place such as this is a tragedy indeed.

Greater Flamingos (click on the image to visit Anand Arya's own website)

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Dance Upon a Chimney Pot

    Sitting in the coffee shop window this morning, thinking and planning and worrying, and drawing on a napkin, I looked out and saw against sky two pigeons silhouetted on a chimney pot.  It is a bright, frozen day, with only a distant chill whisper of spring, but one pigeon was doing his bowing dance to the other, circling and bobbing, rounding his chest, no doubt cooing his burred song.  He made me smile, and watch, and forget my thoughts.
    Soon, his lady flew away.  The pigeon paused in his dance.  I thought he would stop, or fly away, too. But after a moment of looking this way and that with his tiny head, he began his dance alone against the clear blue, turning in a pattern which, however instinctual, was a very song of delight, of joy in being, of love without care of return.
    No cramping fear of the morrow, though one pecks a meager living on a sidewalk, no shadow of foiled desire, no shame in the perception of others, indeed in a small gray bird a pure call to cast one's very soul upon the waters.

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Forget-Me-Nots for the Dodo Bird

"The beauty and genius of a work of art may be reconceived, though its first material expression be destroyed; a vanished harmony may yet again inspire the composer; but when the last individual of a race of living beings breathes no more, another heaven and another earth must pass before such a one can be again."
                                                                        ~  William Beebe

(With thanks to Bob Bills for the quote above.)

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For Critters’ Sake

While I think of it, an afflicted pigeon reminded me of some simple
critter-saving practices -- likely you know them as well as I do, but just in case:

a. When disposing of plastic bags, be sure and tie them in a knot
(or two or three). This helps prevent them from blowing over some nest or
burrow, trapping wee critters inside or suffocating or entangling

b. When disposing of those plastic ring holders from six-packs of
whatever, cut the rings so nobody can put its neck or limb through the loops
& come to a bitter end.

c. String -- or that sinister dental floss -- can get wrapped around
a bird’s leg and cause it to become gangrenous. I suspect this may
have been the case with a pigeon who, alas, escaped my efforts
the other day on the street. Exceedingly distressing.  I now either cut
string waste into bits or tie it firm & close on itself in such a way that
no little toothpick legs are endangered.

Our smallest actions may prevent bitter suffering; a thing both wonderful
and daunting.

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