Feeding Baby Hummingbirds

We are delighted to share a video featuring two of our tiniest patients. A nest, complete with tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbird chicks arrived yesterday after it came down in a storm. We were not able to replace it, but will continue to try when weather clears. Few people have the honor of witnessing baby hummingbirds as they are fed. Their parent are not doing the feeding, we think they are still pretty amazing. Hummingbirds eat aphids and other tiny insects as well as nectar. Protein is vital to hummingbirds all of their life, but especially so as babies when they are growing quickly. There is a small syringe at the other end of the feeding tube that is not visible on the video. Their formula is a complicated mixture of crushed and powdered insects and a homemade nectar base along with digestive enzymes, which they get from their parents naturally during feeding.

Posted by Raptor Education Group, Inc. on Wednesday, July 24, 2013

And, I am now reminded of how I once rescued a Hummingbird…..

I was out paddling my canoe on a lake that I was exploring for the first time; the winds were calm and the waters were as placid as could be.   Far out from shore, near some cattails that projected up from a submerged island, I noticed this small, persistent  rippling area in the glassy surface of the lake.  Curious, I paddled over, and there discovered a Hummingbird, struggling for its life in the water.

I slowly slid my paddle beneath the frantic bird and gently lifted her out of the lake.  Then carefully slid her down onto one of the empty seats (I was kneeling in the middle of the canoe).  Once sure of her footing on the seat, she hung her wings out to dry, resembling a tiny cormorant in her pose.  But she was panting terrifically and I could tell she was exhausted from her struggles and from the cold water draining her energy.

I quickly paddled to the shore, and after passing the dock of one cabin, I found that the next cabin had a Hummingbird feeder hanging from its eves.

Somehow I managed to nudge the poor bedraggled bird back on the paddle and set her down on the dock.   I then flagged down the owner, who had seen me through her window, and who promised me that she would look after the bird.

The experience cast a magical spell over the rest of my time on the lake.

They are such delicate creatures…

 

 

 

Rise & Shine

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This Hummingbird greeted me on the sidewalk on my way home:

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The mysteries of the Hummingbird –

Never flapping their wings, but rotating them in a figure 8,

they reach near-infinities in flight –

Wingbeats of 70 times per second when casually flitting about.

Wingbeats of 200 times per second when in a high-speed dive.

Drinking of the nectar of life.

Heartbeats beating for joy 21 times per second.

Wolf Medicine

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Mexican Wolf Population Now Tops 100 in US

15 years ago I led a small group who carried the Wolf energy from Minnesota down to New Mexico to do a blessing ritual for the Mexican Gray Wolves that were being reintroduced into the wild.

Minnesota at one time sheltered the last remaining wild wolves in the lower 48 states, so it seemed fitting that we give some spiritual assistance to this noble effort.

Thus, I was so pleased to read the article linked below, that tells of how the wolves, after a very rough start, have been flourishing.

This is just wonderful news to share for all those who feel a connection to our animal brothers and sisters.

http://news.yahoo.com/mexican-wolf-population-now-tops-100-us-123358887.html

The Mexican wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), a smaller subspecies of gray wolf, was hunted out of the wild in the United States by the 1970s.

Once driven to the brink extinction in the United States, the population of Mexican wolves has doubled in the past five years.

— there are now 19 packs, with at least 53 wolves in New Mexico and 56 wolves in Arizona. The 2014 total also included 38 wild-born pups that survived through the end of the year

(keep reading more at the link)

I could discuss the Wolf energy, and how Wolf can assist one as a spirit animal; but rather than doing that, I would love to hear about other people’s  experience with Wolf Medicine ~ So please share!

 

Indigenous Realism

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Indigenous Realism has taught me so much.

So grateful for the diversity of human cultures:
~ those cultures that have focused upon the intellect, developing tools to explore the mystery of existence through science, deepening our understanding and changing our lives through the evolution of technology.

~ those cultures that have focused upon the intuition, developing tools to explore the mystery of existence through spirituality, deepening our understanding and changing our lives through the evolution of the soul.

Dancing with the Yin and the Yang.  Gotta love it.

Explore the Great Mystery.
Evolve.

 

 

Groundhog Days ~ And Nights

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For those of you with a touch of Groundhog energy, here’s some new info to flesh out your understanding…

Woodchucks aren’t forecasting the weather when they emerge—they’re looking for love

The Truth about Groundhog Day
http://www.nwf.org/news-and-magazines/national-wildlife/animals/archives/2006/groundhogs.aspx

Stam Zervanos, a biology professor at Pennsylvania State University’s Berks-Lehigh Valley College has made a discovery that could, um, cast a shadow on Groundhog Day. Male woodchucks, as the animals are also known, aren’t checking the weather when they wake up in early February, says Zervanos. They’re scoping for potential mates.

Yes, Groundhog Day is more like Valentine’s Day. When a male groundhog wakes up in February from its three-month-long hibernation, he leaves his burrow and goes for a stroll around the ol’ territory—a tract of about 2 to 3 acres. When he comes to a female’s burrow (there may be several within his territory), he ducks inside and stays the night. The next morning he continues on his tour. “Each male visits two or three females,” says Zervanos.

But he is pretty sure the sleepover parties are tame. “We know they are not mating because no baby groundhogs are born in early March,” he says. (The groundhog gestation period is about 30 days.) After the February cuddlefest, the male goes back to his own pad, rolls up in a ball and sleeps for another month.

So what’s with the rodent sleepovers? “They’re a chance to bond,” Zervanos suggests. The February visits may serve as “getting to know you” sessions—obviating the need to spend lots of time exchanging biological details in March. As far as Zervanos knows, this speed-dating behavior is unique to groundhogs. “I think it’s a major find,” he says.

When the groundhogs wake up for good in March, the males drop in on the females again for a week of wild groundhog mating.

Zervanos still has questions about groundhogs. He wonders if females are ever visited by more than one male

Swan Song

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Driving to work I saw these Trumpeter Swans on Lake Calhoun. So beautiful. I have a deep connection with Trumpeter Swans and have had many encounters with them, but this is the first time that I’ve seen them on a Minneapolis lake.
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I stopped to linger with them for awhile. And began chanting “OM” to them, as I had done years ago when I had my first interaction with them. On that occasion , after long minutes of just watching, when began I chanting to them, a pair swam toward each other and began their courtship display of facing each other and lowering the heads and trumpeting to each other as they raised their heads in unison. Their duet was spellbinding. They repeated this time after time, with other swans joining in the display. It was such a enthralling experience.
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This morning, after I gave a few intonations of “OM”, a young woman walked up from behind me to see them too. Catching each other’s eyes, she said, “Don’t stop, I won’t think it’s weird if you chant Om!”   Always nice when one encounters a kindred spirit! After exchanging hellos (her name was Shannon) and oohing and aahing about the swans, I then asked her if she’d chant with me. And so we did, it was lovely, once again eliciting a response from the swans. There was no pairing up, but one could see that they were clearly stirred and several of them randomly trumpeted to the skies as we intoned. Chanting with the Swans – so magical.
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About an hour later I drove by again, and they all had their heads tucked under their wings, sleeping as still and silent as floating snow drifts.

Trumpeter Swans were reintroduced to Minnesota beginning in 1978. Since that year the population has gone from zero to about 2,400. A truly amazing success. They nest in shallow lakes and marches quite removed from each other during the summers. But in the winters they flock together. Interestingly, they do not migrate south for the winters, but remain here in what open bodies of water they can find. Trumpeters are the heaviest bird in North America, the largest living waterfowl in the world, and can have wingspans of 8 feet, with one male found to have a wingspan of 10 feet.

The adults are pure white and look utterly angelic when buffeting the air with their wings to slow themselves to land. Add to this their trumpeting, and they seem the very earthly embodiment of these etheric beings that herald glad tidings.
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Swans of course have long been associated with grace and this is a very true characteristic. There is much that one could add about the energy they carry, but I’ll mention just two things.

One, they are extremely powerful birds, and so they embody so well the energy of the graceful use of power.

Second, consider their distinctive long, elegant necks. It’s not they use their elongated necks to reach higher, but to reach lower. They submerge their heads down to the bottom of shallow water to feed on aquatic plants. – “They will also dig into muddy substrate underwater to extract roots and tubers”.  – So they are the perfect symbol for looking deep into one’s watery emotions, or even deeper into the “muddier substrates” of one’s unconscious impulses, to bring consciousness to what is going on beneath the surface, and to draw sustenance from that exercise.

I so love these birds. Such a blessing to encounter them on this icy morning, on a city lake, on a drive to work.

Sin Eater

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“The Latin name of the Turkey Vulture is Cathartes aura, which means “Golden Purifier” or “Purifying Breeze”

“The generic term Cathartes means “purifier” and is the Latinized form from the Greek kathartēs. The species name, aura, is Latinized from the Native Mexican word for the bird, auroura.”

“Cathartes is the Greek word for “purifier,” referring to these vultures’ role as “cleansers” that remove decomposing corpses in nature.”

“…vultures play a very important role in the ecosystem by disposing of carrion that would otherwise be a breeding ground for disease”

“Although they have excellent vision, they are searching for the odor of a carcass with their highly developed sense of smell.

“They have been known to be able to smell carrion from over a mile away which is very unique in the bird world. The turkey vulture has the largest olfactory (smelling) system of all birds.”

“Turkey Vultures can eat the meat of animals that died of disease and not get sick themselves, because of special enzymes in their stomachs which destroy bacteria and viruses.”

“…its incredibly acidic stomach and powerful immune system keeps it safe from diseases that would kill other animals, diseases such as botulism, anthrax, salmonella, and e-coli.”

“Their droppings are disease-free.”

“Vultures have bare heads and often bare necks so that when they feed on rotting carcasses, bacteria and other parasites cannot burrow into their feathers to cause infections.”

“Considering what they eat, these are some of the cleanest animals around….Turkey Vultures often bathe in water. They constantly preen cleaning out their feathers with their bill.”

“Vultures urinate on their legs and feet to help cool off on hot days, and their urine also helps kill any bacteria or parasites they’ve picked up from walking through carcasses to help keep the birds healthier”

“Vultures display another odd bit of behavior in their perpetual battle against bacteria. They will frequently stand with their wings outstretched [in what is a called a “horaltic pose”]….In addition to warming the body and drying the wings, it is believed that the pose also helps kill bacteria by exposing it to sunlight.”

“If attacked, its primary form of defense is regurgitating.”

“Their defensive vomit is foul-smelling enough to drive away predators. If enemies approach too closely, the high amount of acid in the vomit is strong enough to burn them as well.”

“Seen on the wing, the Turkey Vulture is an awe-inspiring and graceful bird. Designed for soaring flight, with a nearly six-foot wing span and a light body weight, turkey vultures are able to buoyantly ride rising columns of warm air to heights of almost 5,000 feet and to travel up to 40 miles per hour.”

“…their days look like bliss, gliding for hours on end without a wingbeat, maintaining lift and stability at lower altitudes by canting their wings upward in a dihedral V, teetering left and right, then riding corkscrew thermal elevators to the penthouse without so much as the twitch of a muscle.

“Groups of perched vultures are called a wake. Imagine them mourning over something with their heads hung down.”

Metaphorically ~ People with Turkey Vulture Medicine possess a highly tuned sense of what is of death and not of life, and willingly take it into themselves; taking only what is dead, they purify the world around them, cleansing what could otherwise prove an emotional or energetic contagion to others.  They are protected in this endeavor, not subject to taking the contagion into their minds, and the contagion is destroyed as it passes through them.  Nonetheless, they must be ever mindful of cleansing themselves and immersing themselves in the Light.   Regrettably, if they feel threatened, they will spew whatever unprocessed contagion they have taken into themselves onto their perceived attacker.  They possess an inherent grace; far from being harbingers of death, they are Angels of Light.

 

“The term Sin-Eater refers to a person who, through ritual means, would take on the sins others.”

This was done so that the Individual Soul could be purified and reconciled to the Universal Spirit.

This tradition can be found in many cultures, including European and Meso-American.

“Tlazolteotl, the Aztec goddess of earth, motherhood and fertility, had a redemptive role in the religious practices of the Meso-American civilization. At the end of an individual’s life, he was allowed to confess his misdeeds to this deity, and according to legend she would cleanse his soul by “eating its filth”.”

In the Jewish tradition, there was the “Escape Goat” – in the celebration of their Day of Atonement, the sins of the community were placed upon a goat that was released into the desert, thus it “escaped”. It was considered the “remover of sin” or the “sender away of sins” – and is the origin of the term “scapegoat”.

In the story of Jesus of Nazareth, he became the “Scapegoat” in that he took the sins of others upon himself, in an act of atonement. Though he is called “The Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world”.  Which to my mind, moving from the goat to the lamb, symbolizes the shift in emphasis from a legalistic to a heart-based spirituality.

It’s fascinating to observe that Jesus is immortalized in the same horalitc pose that Turkey Vultures strike to bathe in the Light.

If there are Sin Eaters in the world today, they have chosen a most difficult path, and they would do well to call upon, and emulate, the energies of the Turkey Vulture.

One does wonder what might befall such a person if they were unaware of their role and failed to cleanse themselves and to neutralize internally whatever they have naturally, though unconsciously, drawn into themselves.  Without sufficient spiritual transmutation, the contagion would thus build up within them, and they would lead tormented lives, presumably acting out and spreading the contagion when under duress.

 

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image at top from:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gitart/5357575400/

 

image at bottom from:
http://www.raptorrehab.org/vultures.html

The Elegant Peacock

complex order
inherent in the universe
proof, it is claimed
that He exists
the handiwork of God.
One look upon the peacock
proof, it must be
that She exists
beauty beyond comprehension
that only the Goddess
could imagine
and what God
would wear such a cloak
unless courting heavenly bliss
Krishna courting his Queen

Jet Eliot

Peacock in Texas Peacock in Texas

A dazzling bouquet of feathers to ease into the new week.

Photo credit:  Athena Alexander

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