Starlings make an appearance

European starlings have been harvesting the trove of black olives that grow in batches on nearly every branch of the tree out back.

Normally, the olives merely fall to the ground and rot, so it’s nice to see the birds using them for sustenance. They take them and fly to the ground, where they shake them violently in their beaks until they split into bite-sized chunks.

The starlings’ plumage is iridescent and more or less echoes the color of the olives. Their dark feathers are offset by a caramel trim along their outer wings, with their bodies speckled in earth tones as if by an artist’s brush. Continue reading

The goings on at the ponds

Photo by Cassandra Keenan

The great egrets shunned the other waterfowl.

The egrets were staying in Vegas as part of their winter migrational route. Like an ivy league clique, they stuck up their bills while congregating in a lush, green riparian grove, which made their white plumage all the more stunning — like fresh-fallen snow.

And they knew it.

Meanwhile, the gambel’s quail were skittish, despite being on their year-round turf. They ran from the paparazzi as per usual, head plumes bobbing as they made for the clearings, taking cover in the bramble. Continue reading

Notes on grackles

Grackles engrossed in nonstop quibbles like tweens in a schoolyard. Their predatory clamber across tree bark, clawing like cats on carpet. Grackles and the way that they crow and cackle! Torpedoing from bush to rock to tree to fountain, dumpster-diving, whizzing past your head like P-140 bombers. Fluttering low like bats in Victorian homes, perched on hilltops and awash in fog and sickly lamplight, their nefarious flight charged with purpose, bulging from their green button eyes.

A morning at the park

Passing the fragrant pines, they seem episodic today
I am intoning for the clouds to stick around
A flycatcher makes swooping casts from a branch like a fly fisherman’s line
A male robin is at rest on a low bough while its mate babysits the nest above
Man on camp chair w/ obedient mastiff, unleashed and lounging in the grass
Finches on trees like holiday ornaments, branches bobbing like rafts in a rapid
The smoke & scent of BBQ and the sound of the Wailers
Bob Marley chirping about his single bed
In the distance, a Harley like an aboriginal didgeridoo & chant