Posted by: atowhee | June 15, 2018


I got to spend some sunny moments watching commonplace birds in Golden Gate Park.  If you have the leisure to stop, and watch, the bird world can amaze you. A pair of Black Phoebes were feeding their young.  I am in the Bay Area to talk about the centuries of man-made change in the natural environment.  I always point out that birds like Barn Swallow and Black Phoebe have thrived in urban San Francisco.  Humans have gone about putting up all sorts of fine nesting structures for these species.  Yesterday I watched the phoebes feeding young in their mud-based cup nest nestled up under a man-made roof, atop a man-made ledge.  Such fine nesting spots would have been very scarce in a wilder world in 1750.  As long as we can resist saturating the environment with poisons the phoebes willtghrive alongside our artificial environment.  Not only did we provide a structure for them to nest in  but there were irrigation sprinklers running to provide plant life to attract and support the insects needed to feed and nourish the phoebe nestlings.  Also, note that the adult phoebe feed both nestlings on a single visit:BP-NESTBP-NEST2BP-NEST3BP-NEST4BP-NEST5BP-NEST6BPRETTYBPRETTY2BPRETTY3BPRETTY4Bug in beak:BPRETTY6BP7BP3BP2BP1In the nearby pond the water, with its hydrogen and oxygen molecules, must have contained nearly as many molecules from algae and duck feces.  The color of the sun shined water was a livid earth tone, unknown to ocean or mountain river.  A lone, brave Barn Swallow was racing back and forth along the slightly wavy surface of the water, grabbing insects for its afternoon meal.  It was regardless of the water or its non-insect content.  In the bright sun the iridescent back of the swallow was a shard of black glass; each strike it made on the surface sent up droplet mirrors to reflect and refract the sun. The bird spashled itself with the water which quickly dispersed back into pond or into the dry air as the wings and swallow tail fluttered and sped on.BS-1BS-2BS-3BS-4In this lastimage you see the small pond turtle beyond the swallow splash–two animals that move in drastically different measures of time and space.  The swallow moves the length of the pond several times while the turtle could swim half its length.  And each has a very defined relationship with the water itself.  The swallow would be unable to dive or hold its breath for long beneath the surface.  The mere image of a flying turtle gets little beyond farcical.

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