Courtship

 

Horned Grebe  in breeding plumage

Horned Grebe
in breeding plumage

 

Zenith Arc
My Sunrise Sadhana

April 25th: Day #21

So many signs of courtship on my walk this morning…

After days of poor wooing weather, we have a beautiful, clear & calm morning, perfect for serenading, and the Robins and Cardinals and Chickadees and Song Sparrows are out in force, singing with every once of libido in their bodies.

On Lake Harriet, the Loons are calling; Horned Grebes are parading about, dressed to impress the ladies; and the Red Breasted Mergansers, taking a very proactive approach, are engaged in their erratic, but presumably erotic, courtship displays…

Red Breasted Merganser

Red Breasted Merganser

 

Their display includes stretching the neck and bobbing the head, wing flapping, crest raising and tail cocking.   To see them in action, see this youtube:

 

The Terns and Herring Gulls were raising a ruckus, as usual, but I’m uncertain if that was courtship.

 

I did not take the pictures of the birds, but these were taken with my iPhone this morning:

 

IMG_0336 IMG_0339IMG_0363IMG_0337

 

A very fine mist that hung over the lake this morning cast pastel hues over everything.   Is was all very serene.

While watching the grebes, an older couple approached me, asking what the birds were.  As always, I was pleased to share (show off?) my knowledge about the natural world.   We talked for a bit, discussed how much more waterfowl there is on the lake this year than is typical.  They live in the area and have walked the lake for years, and had never seen Horned Grebes before.  We agreed that there were more Loons and ducks than ever.  In a few days, however, the Loons and Grebes and Terns and Mergansers will all be gone, continuing their migration to more northern nesting grounds.

In all, my experience this morning felt more like that of a remote wilderness lake, than our humble, but hallowed, Lake Harriet located in the middle of the metro area.

 

 

 

 

 

No Birds Sing on the Winter Solstice

No birds sing on the winter solstice.
Our shortest day is not brightened,
Nor is our longest night heralded,
by the high-pitched voice of a winged enchanter.

The nights stretch so long,
they draw near enough to whisper to each other.
hushed amid these whispers, we go about our business,
knowing they threaten us with cold death,
even as they entrance us with the mystery of darkness.

Perhaps the birds are also hushed by these whispers.
Perhaps none dares speak too loudly, too joyously,
Lest they be struck down by the hand of cold.
Or perhaps they, too, know reverence for the dark.

But as the sun rises higher and higher,
Day by day,
The birds are emboldened,
One by one.

The first to challenge the cold with its song?
The bravest of the birds?  The chickadee.
Each year, on some sunny January day,
A chickadee summons the courage to sing of the return of the light.

chickadee

A David of fluff challenging the Goliath of frost.
For weeks, none dare join him.
Then, come February, the Blue Jays, in their police attire
Call out their metallic Kweedle, Kweedle, from the treetops.

Soon, they are followed by the cardinals,
Singing as bold and brash as their crimson plumage,
As though they were the ones to break the spell of silence.

Each winter, whether the days be frigid or fair,
Whether the ground be snow-blanketed or mud-bare,
These are our harbingers… not of spring’s arrival…
But that the giant of winter will be overcome, once again.