Draw a Bird Day: African Silverbill…maybe

Outside the room where I usually paint, there is a boisterous Tithonia Diversifolia, sometimes called a tree marigold, Mexican sunflower, Japanese sunflower, or Nitobe chrysanthemum. Throughout the day the tall shaggy plant dances to passing breezes and seems to collect birds of all types.  Yesterday a small flock of petite sepia brown birds joined in the afternoon dance, hopping among the leaves and dried seedpods of the sunflower tree.  Yesterday, was also “Draw a Bird Day”, celebrated by our blogging community on the 8th of every month and currently being hosted by Laura at Create Art Every Day.  These little feathered visitors seemed to be volunteering as subject matter for a painting.

I am guessing, as they blended in so well with the dried leaves and managed to flit quickly from spot to stem, that they might be the African Silverbill, or Lonchura Cantans. Long known in the islands as the “Warbling Silverbill”, (which turns out to be a different species altogether and a whole different story), these tiny Silverbills are thought to have been released on the Big Island of Hawai’i in the mid 1960’s.  Since then they have managed to fly across island channels and established themselves throughout the island chain.   Considering they are roughly 3 inches in length, give or take, that they navigated over rough ocean waters just boggles my mind with admiration and amazement.

Always a welcome distraction to the day and a delight to watch, they often travel in little groups sitting on tall stalks of grass and plucking seeds or nesting material, or visiting the shaggy sunflower tree outside my window and making the most of what it has to offer.

A bit late in the posting, taking time from today’s painting to finish what was started yesterday. These small feathered charmers are a subject I would like to revisit again, maybe even figure out if they are Silverbills or some other bird like a Waxbill instead.  Any excuse for taking a time-out to sit and keep company with these tiny warbling little birds.

African Silverbills copy

African Silverbills…maybe?

Leading Lost Hearts Home

Shisa Companions

Shisa Companions

Started in 2014 and observed every April 23rd, today is National Lost Dog Awareness.

As described at National Calendar Days (continuing with Charlie’s invitation):

“This day was created not only to bring awareness to the dogs that go missing but to also celebrate the reunions.  Through networks of shelters, veterinaries, social media and other media sources, many lost canines are reunited with their loved ones. National Lost Dog Awareness Day is an opportunity to learn more about prevention and networking.”

Positive thoughts and prayers for the lost that they find their way home, for the searching that they find their friends, and for the many in between who help reconnect hearts.

If prayers were bells

All the world would hear ringing

Leading lost hearts home

 

National Pet Day

National Pet Day

National Pet Day

Joining Charlie’s invitation to celebrate a National or International Day with a doodlewash and because it is hard to resist the idea of celebrating National Pet Day, (April 11th), here is a morning doodle. Peace and happiness to all companions great and small and the people who love and care for them.

Friends through the seasons

Faithful in good times and bad

Sharing lives and hearts

Draw a bird day: Kōlea

Kolea

Kōlea

Navigators fly

Return to cold distant shores

Voices on the wind

Last night I heard the passing warble of a Pacific Golden Plover, (Pluvialis fulva), or, as we call them, Kōlea.  The name is an onomatopoeia that copies the plover’s flight call.

A timely reminder that April 8th is Draw a Bird Day, a monthly event in our blogging community formerly hosted by Laura at Create Art Everyday, and now cared for by Nina and Kerfe at Method Two Madness.

The Kōlea, navigator, messenger from the gods, guardian spirit, a god incarnate, and a familiar island guest, have wintered here long before man stepped foot on these sandy shores. Many believe the birds helped to guide early Polynesian explorers here and elsewhere in the pacific so it is not surprising they are part of our earliest oral history and even down to today they remain part of our belief system.

These amazing and mighty long-distance flyers, not only find their way back to tiny little specks of lava rock in the middle of the ocean, but they also find the same specific wintering grounds in the islands each year, … such as someone’s backyard.  There is a record of a banded Kōlea returning to the same site for over 20 years. No wonder many island residents become attached to seeing their guests arrive year after year.

Most Kōlea have fattened up and their plumage has changed from the golden sandy colors they arrived with in the fall, to more striking breeding plumage complete with a white racer stripe.  By next week a few will start to leave, and near the end of the month, large groups will depart on their arduous non-stop journey to as far north as the Arctic tundra.

Though a very few will remain over the summer, by the end of April the absence of Kōlea will be noticeable and people will start marking calendars waiting for their return in the fall.  There is still so much to learn from these travelers, they are a link not only to past traditions, but possibly our future as environmental conditions change.  As we say in the islands, Aloha a hui hou! (Farewell until we meet again)

 

(Sketch in Stillman & Birn Zeta series using Quinacridone Gold, Transparent Brown Oxide (Daniel Smith) and Ultramarine Blue (M. Graham) watercolor.)

Flowers and Birdsong

Flowers and Birdsong

Just another pen and ink sketchbook doodle (in between projects), while thinking about friends, International Women’s Day and the monthly draw a bird day started by Laura at Create art everyday, and of course done while listening to birdsong.

Smiles of true friends lift

Hearts like flowers and birdsong

Clouds tickle the toes

Like A Phoenix

Like A Phoenix

It is a time of transition, in-between creative projects, a time to put aside paint brushes and reach for the pencil and pens. What better place to relax and ponder over new directions than doodling in the sketchbook. I suppose the arrival of a New Moon and Chinese New Year were on my mind, it seemed to be the direction for my drawings and scribbles.  Here in the islands local celebrations include brightly colored decorations, lions dancing in Chinatown streets, and sharing plenty of good food with family and friends. The festivities herald seasonal change while allowing moments of reflection and offering hopes for another new year.

It is a time of transition, … a good time to pause, take a breath, and recharge the batteries before continuing creative journeys, under a shining moon, like a phoenix reborn and filled with possibilities.

Lunar promises

Bloom like a phoenix reborn

Red fire monkey laughs

Lehua Rain

Playing with watercolors in a new sketchbook (Stillman & Birn Zeta series), working through ideas for a new painting…and, well… one thing led to another.

Lehua Rain

In a world of gray

Thoughts of love grow like ‘ōhi’a

‘I’iwi sing in lehua rain

A native tree in the Hawaiian islands, the ʻōhiʻa lehua is the first plant to grow on new areas of lava flow. The ‘I’iwi is a scarlet Hawaiian honeycreeper, a native bird with a unique bill shaped for drinking nectar.  The term “lehua rain” refers to the legend of the ‘ōhi’a tree where plucking a flower causes the heavens to weep at the separation of two lovers, ‘Ōhi’a and Lehua.

Draw a Bird Day: Corvus Hawaiiensis

Celebrating Laura’s (Create Art Everyday) Draw a Bird Day, (every 8th day of the month), with a poem and watercolor sketch of the Hawaiian Crow, (‘Alala or Corvus Hawaiiensis).  Working in a sketchbook not really meant for the use of water, the items used were pencil, Ultramarine blue (M. Graham) and Quinacridone burnt scarlet (Daniel Smith) watercolor.

Hawaiian Crow

Before the last pair disappeared from the wilds, conservationists began a captive breeding program with the goal to prevent extinction and eventually reintroduce birds back into their former habitats.  The story is far from over, the program continues and there is growing hope that one day the distinctive call of the Hawaiian crow will again be heard in the forest wilds.