Wings overwinter

Winter wings

Image result for cranes texas january image

Whooping cranes (Grus americana) in Aransas Wildlife Refuge, Texas

Image at wikimedia commons

The Cranes, Texas January

I call my wife outdoors to have her listen,

to turn her ears upward, beyond the cloud-veiled

sky where the moon dances thin light,

to tell her, “Don’t hear the cars on the freeway—


it’s not the truck-rumble. It is and is not

the sirens.” She stands there, on deck

a rocking boat, wanting to please the captain

who would have her hear the inaudible.


Her eyes, so blue the day sky is envious,

fix blackly on me, her mouth poised on question

like a stone. But, she hears, after all.

January on the Gulf,

warm wind washing over us,

we stand chilled in the winter of those voices.

by Mark Sanders

More at

Listen to whooping cranes atThe Cornell Lab of Ornithology site

Watch whooping cranes on this Texas Parks and Wildlife video

Salt pan stopover

Seriously special sandpipers:

In March 2014, Flightpathproject visited the salt pans of Pak Thale in Thailand, to look for – and find! – the critically endangered Spoon-billed sandpiper: see

Pak Thale is a vital staging ground on the sandpipers’ way to breed in Kamchatka, in the far east of Russia.

Image at

Protection for the salt pans:

By the end of 2016, the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand is hoping to buy, manage and  conserve the threatened salt pans for spoonies – and for the hundreds of thousands of other shorebirds – that use Pak Thale annually.

For more about the project see



Home away from home:

After a long flightpath – from Russia via London Heathrow to Gloucestershire, England – watch Spoon-billed sandpiper chicks hatch at Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust


Home from home

From a home to a home:

A new project from the artists and makers of the wonderful Flyway Print Exchange seeks ‘to create compassion and understanding for both the human travellers who come to our country in the hope of finding a safe haven and for the shorebirds that rely on our coastal wetlands’.



More information and image at

‘No-one leaves home, unless home is the mouth of a shark’:

Young British poets speak out for the flightpaths and arrivals of refugees at

Winging it through the world

World Shorebirds Day 2016

The global count of shorebirds will be from 2 to 2 September. More information at

In 2014, participants were invited to sketch the birds they saw; see some of the results at

image2 stiltsBlack-winged stilts in Japan by Narisa Togo


Shore Birds

While I think of them they are growing rare
after the distances they have followed
all the way to the end for the first time
tracing a memory they did not have
until they set out to remember it
at an hour when all at once it was late
and newly silent and the white had turned
white around them then they rose in their choir
on a single note each of them alone
between the pull of the moon and the hummed
undertone of the earth below them
the glass curtains kept falling around them
as they flew in search of their place before
they were anywhere and storms winnowed them
they flew among the places with towers
and passed the tower lights where some vanished
with their long legs for wading in shadow
others were caught and stayed in the countries
of the nets and in the lands of lime twigs
some fastened and after the countries of
guns at first light fewer of them than I
remember would be here to recognize
the light of late summer when they found it
playing with darkness along the wet sand

by WS Merwin

Writing Life

Listen to WS Merwin speak about words in the world:

To be a bird

The endless possibilities of heron:

Brooklyn_Museum_-_Green_Heron_-_John_J._Audubon‘Green Heron’ by John Audubon, from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum

Image at

On the First Day She Made Birds

He asked me       if I had a choice

what kind of bird

would I choose to be.

I know what he thought I’d say

since he tried to        end

my sentences half the time

anyway. Something exotic

he thought. He thought

maybe macaw.

That would fit

all loudmouthed

and primary colored

he would think.

(He thinks too much

I always thought.)

But really       at heart

I’m more

don’t laugh now

an L B J

little brown job

except               except

I’m not the

flit        from


to        branch        type

such a waste

of energy all that

wing flap

and scritch scritch scratch.

Really now

can you see me

seed pod clamped

between my beak

like some landowner,

Havana cigar


between his teeth?

No         I think         not

I think

green heron.

You ask why?



That hunched look

wings tucked to neck

waiting        waiting

in the sun

on a wide slab of rock

alongside a slow river

like some old man

up from a bad night’s dream

where he’s seen his coffin

and you say to him

Have a nice day

and he says        Make me.

Oh          you want looks

I’ll give you


long olive green feathers

a trace of


I could stand

going out       iridescent

chestnut sides and head

a black crown

yes        a crown

something regal

to flash when you get

too close

dark bill         bright

yellow legs

and that creamy streak

down my throat and pecs


not great

but good         pecs

just enough for a quick

hop to the next.

The best part

no sexual dimorphism

male         female

both alike

endless possibilities.

by Diana Garcia


Green Heron WikiGreen Heron, Butorides virescens

Image at

Words for bird calls:

‘The green heron’s call is a loud and sudden kyow; it also makes a series of more subdued kuk calls. During courtship, the male gives a raah-rahh call with wide-open bill, makes noisy wingbeats and whoom-whoom-whoom calls in flight, and sometimes calls roo-roo to the female before landing again. While sitting, an aaroo-aaroo courtship call is also given…’

Description at



Fleet of foot

Rhythm and Blues

Blue-capped cordon-bleu caught in courtship tap-dance:

More information at’-courtship-display-filmed/6958040

Birds do it, bees do it, we do it

Said to be the report on Fred Astaire’s screen test at RKO Radio Pictures: “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Balding. Can dance a little.”

fred astaire

Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell in Broadway Melody, 1940

Fred Astaire

‘The secret of his popularity/Was he looked like a bus driver…’

Hear Ed Ochester read his poem Fred Astaire at

Tapping the light fantastic

Watch a selection of tap-dancing scenes at


Bird notes

Birds, words and music:

A piece about about Molloy, Messiaen and the music of birds by Australian composer and broadcaster Andrew Ford at

Front-cover Molloy

Georgiana Molloy – the mind that shines.

Biography by Bernice Barry, Redgate, 2015


Catalogue of birds:

Listen to the Black-eared wheatear by Messiaen from his Catalogue d’oiseaux at