Wednesday, February 4, 2015

on the calligraphy

on the calligraphy
of black limbs against snow
a red stamp -- feathered!

So many birds flocking to the feeders, but it's the redbirds that catch the eye, like a red signature stamp placed in the corner of a black ink calligraphy on white mulberry paper. This Cardinal has been pecking at the snow in the crotch of the cherry tree, his beak frosted like a baby eating ice cream.

Outside the windows with the hanging feeders, it looks like a busy airport. Birds fly in and out, waiting their turn to land. Many of them perch in the goumi bush, laden now with fat clumps of snow instead of red berries, which the redbirds like to eat in summer.

This fellow is all puffed up, trying to keep warm in the frigid air. He's clutching two snowballs, so you'd think his feet would be freezing. But a note from Bird Note ( explains why birds' feet don't freeze:
          Birds' feet are little more than bone, sinew and scale, with very few nerves. In addition, a miraculous adaptation called rete mirabile (wonderful network) is responsible for keeping their feet from freezing. A fine netlike pattern of arteries that carries warm blood from the bird's heart is interwoven with the veins carrying cold blood from the feet and legs. This interweaving warms the cold blood in these veins before it reaches the bird's heart and keeps the bird's legs and feet warm.
          I wonder, is that how hobbit feet stay warm without boots?

This male is losing a feather from his wing. Better get it checked out before he's cleared for the next flight!

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