Hummingcrow & Co.

Seán   #Meanwhile

A robber fly celebrates a successful heist by slurping out the liquefied innards of its ambushed prey.

July 13, '10: female hummingbird repeats running bill against door glass,
up + down looking in at me. many visits

Kate  Mystery of the Alien-Pod

A couple of weeks ago, Seán found a mysterious, silvery pod on the ground beside the house, about the size of a lime. It appeared to have been there for a while, as it was very light and seemed dried out. We took our guesses: was it a plant-pod? Some kind of egg sac? I thought it might be an owl-pellet, due to it's hairy outside texture, shape and size. We decided to lovingly refer to it as the “alien pod”:

alien pod

There was only one thing to do in order to solve the mystery – cut it open:

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Seán   #Meanwhile

A tiny metallic green cuckoo wasp timidly peeks out of a habitat log hole, taking in the world beyond through its periscopic antennae.

June 4, '02 - robin nest built on ledge of window - now 3 eggs
June 15 - two pink naked babies today + 1 blue egg to go
June 29, 9:30am - 3 robin chicks left nest


Kate   Pollinator Week: Got Nectar?

Looks like someone's had a busy day of pollinating while filling up on the sweet stuff!

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Seán   Pollinator Week: BC Bees & Wanna-bees

A bumble bee sipping at camas A happy bumble bee enjoying the offerings of a camas / kwetlal flower

A couple of years ago, Kate and I began our journey towards becoming certified Pollinator Stewards thanks to Island Pollinator Initiative's wonderful webinar series. The first session enlightened us about the importance of pollinators to food production and biodiversity, with a special focus on BC's native bees.

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Kate #Meanwhile: The ants go marching... with larvae  Seán

Millions of female worker ants carry the queen's larvae through a vast, treacherous landscape (known to us as 'the garden'). Watch them go...

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Seán   A Morning Surprise

Early one morning, while making my way back up the Hill after weeding and watering, I realized that I hadn't quite completely emptied my watering can—so I began sprinkling the remnants on a few thirsty-looking shrubs.

As I shook the last clinging drops from the container, I was startled to notice a curious pair of eyes peering up at me from a few feet away behind a rock:

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Kate Encounter with Sleepy Young Ravens  Seán

The other day, while taking a stretch break from the anti-ergonomic act of photographing tiny lichens on a rocky slope, I looked up to find I was being silently watched:

juvi raven

I could tell it was a juvenile raven because of the fleshy pink “gape flange” at the base of its beak.

juvi raven blink

I watched as it rested there: quietly preening, yawning and occasionally blinking its spooky nictitating membrane at me.

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Kate  Path to Enlichenment | Part I: Sweet Pixie Cups

Meet the mealy pixie cup lichen:

pixie cups moss rocks

As described in this well-written broadcast, these fairy-dust-coated miniature goblets do indeed look as though they were set on a table of bright green moss, waiting to have single raindrops fill the cups so they may be gulped down by tiny wood sprites.

mirror pixie cups

Each Cladonia chlorophaea (Flörke ex Sommerf.) Sprengel is created from a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae. Put simply, the fungi creates the structure, and the algae provides food through photosynthesis. Each granule of fairy dust, or soredia is made up of a few cells from each of the two organisms. The lichen are reproduced when the granules are spread, which can happen in a variety of ways: perhaps a strong wind, or a drop of water plunking into the cup & splashing onto the surrounding earth, or a passing deer trampling a patch of them.

More luscious pictures & thoughts:

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Seán   Web Reads: Free wild birds & Creative processes  Kate

Seán ~ Have You Seen This Bird

Being a full-time internet nature artist is great, weird, and lonely. This bird project felt more like being together than making art and I, who have never been up to the task of any sort of self-imposed daily practice, took dozens of pictures every day, sharing them with my internet friends. My friends became his friends, and I think caring about him became a way for them to care about me.

Elisabeth Nicula

I came upon this heartfelt and entertaining essay about a city-dwelling human's friendship with Frank the scrub-jay through Robin Sloan's newsletter. Elisabeth does a fantastic job interweaving the emotion and humor of befriending free wild birds, and inspires me to want to write about my friendship with Patience—the only crow that I ever named, and who the stamp which serves as my bird-avatar here is based upon. Maybe at some point I'll post the results on this blog...

(On a side note: As I was reading Elisabeth's story, I realized that I've encountered parts of it before through her great dioramas.space project.)

See also: Frank's Corpus
Kate head ~ On the pleasures of a creative practice that is uniquely your own

A funny coincidence: I was starting to put together a post about two sleepy juvenile ravens (stay tuned!) when I got side-tracked reading an interview on The Creative Independent (“a growing resource of emotional and practical guidance for creative people” that I check occasionally). Its title (above) caught my eye, 'cause I've been pondering my own creative practice around playing piano. It ended up being an interview with composer and keyboardist Roger O’Donnell (of The Cure), who happens to have just released a beautiful piano album, called—get this—2 Ravens. Full circle! I love stuff like that.

A bit from the interview:

It’s that abstract part of creativity that really interests me. When things are just flying around in your head and coming out. That’s what I find most interesting.

It’s when you have to make it palatable or understandable to other people that it becomes mundane. We all have these visions and sounds in our heads that are absolutely fantastic and amazing, but you then have to make them understandable to other people.

— Roger O'Donnell

More musings:

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