Saturday, May 31, 2014

Of Birds and Horses

The Whistle That Caught My Attention
Of Birds and Horses
Members of a Greater Colony
Not Exactly Black
Easy Ride
Fly Catchers
Roaming Colony
Seed Seeker
Grazing Together
Resting Together
The Black Bird and Her Horse
Red-wing black birds are colonial. Unlike osprey that hunt unescorted, or bufflehead hens left to tend nests alone, black birds settle a territory. And there's a hierarchy within the colony--the most dominant male has the reddest shoulders. The ladies, naturally, blend in with horse dust.

Until this very moment, over my third cup of coffee on this last day in May, I never recognized the lady black birds. After all, they aren't really black nor do they have obvious red epaulets. Some of them might not even be ladies, but juvenile or non-mating males.

A bird I never pay attention to, other than to grumble at its propensity to ruin a good photo of the horses by being in the way, just puffed and whistled like the red-winged leader of the black bird pond colony.

All along, Elmira Pond has been swarming with black birds. Only the dominant male is so boldly red-winged.

Moments like this and I forget coffee, grabbing the camera. The lens helps me focus, to see what I might have missed. And there's a symbiotic relationship with the birds and horses on Elmira Pond that I was missing. The horses are part of the colony.

If my dogs, even leashed, come near the black bird territory, all fuss unfolds. If an osprey flies high overhead, two or three males dart heavenward to bully him past fishing here. Yet, the horses trod unharassed.

And the ladies and non-mating males accompany the horses. Some will sit on a warm backside to peck at flies and mosquitoes; others gather in a cluster around hooves gleaning seeds that drop from grazing muzzles.

It is an artistic system when you look at it. And here's your look--photos of birds and horses.

8 comments:

  1. Birds were likely the original bareback riders... rodeo stars in a class of their own. Isn't symbiosis astonishing at times? So much life happens in the presence of horses. Fabulous photos and discoveries.

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    1. The first bareback riders! Yes, symbiosis is amazing yet subtle, too. I felt like I should have known this, but it just became clearer to me.

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  2. I'm loving the shot "Seed Seeker." The horses are insanely gorgeous.
    Also, I didn't realize you were such a connoisseur of coffee! Regular java makes me cwazy!

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    1. The horses are that gorgeous; they make my day! Ha, not that I'm a huge coffee drinker, but coffee lets me sit outside and watch and ponder so I associate these moments with the beverage.

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  3. I love this blog post and your photos. When I was a kid, there were always birds around the ponies. I didn't pay attention or wonder why. I'm so glad that you paid attention and shared with us.

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    1. You know, Dawn, I was the same way--saw the birds hanging out but just never got curious enough to figure out the deeper relationship. It really informed the photos yesterday and made it a cool moment. Glad I could share it!

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  4. It is amazing how much we see things differently when we focus through a camera lens! I love all of the photos. The horses look so beautifully happy. They don't seem to mind those little "not so" black birds one bit.

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    1. I'm not much of a technical photographer, but photography has aided me in storytelling. We do see differently when we look through a lens. Happy horses and happy birds!

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