Birds: Animist Blog Carnival

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Ramphastos swainsonii, Costa Rica.  Photo (copyright) supplied by Barbara Magnusson and Larry Kimbell.

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Ramphastos swainsonii, Costa Rica. Photo (copyright) supplied by Barbara Magnuson and Larry Kimball.

Short-eared Owl, Assio flameus, on a nest, Iceland.  Poto Olafur Larsen, C.C. 2.0.

Short-eared Owl, Assio flameus, on a nest, Iceland. Photo Olafur Larsen, C.C. 2.0.

Welcome to this month’s Animist Blog Carnival.  I’ve chosen Birds as the theme because I’ve learned so much about the natural world, and about animism, from them.   I’ve had quite a deep connection -at least that’s how its felt for me- with one particular species, for many years, and with others from time to time, and love hearing about other people’s experiences.

From a human perspectives birds are liminal beings.  They are wild, yet make contact with us, and share our domestic space.  They are in some ways quite like us, yet in other ways completely different.  They often function as intermediaries between ourselves and the rest of Nature, which, for many cultures, means that they mediate between humans and a divine realm, and bring signs and omens.

Although mainstream scientific ecology no longer acknowledges the epistemological validity of divination, ecologists recognise an absence of birdsong as one of the most emotive signs that biodiversity is in crisis.  For me, one of the appeals of animism is that it opens up the possibility of a rapprochement between ‘natural’ and ‘spiritual/magical’ approaches to Nature.

Many contributors to ABC have written about their concern for birds as  neighbours, and issues that arise when neighbours don’t appear to be getting on!  Birds are clearly important to many people’s sense of place.  Some contributors also engage with birds through dreamwork, and a sensibility that we might think of as sacred ecology.

Naturebum lives beneath a Sea Eagle flight path between his beloved headland on the Australian coast and their inland roost.  He sometimes leaves a gift near their lookout trees, and conveys a vivid sense that their ancestral presence is inseparable from the land in Flight of the Sea Eagle Part 2

Moma Fauna has been jealous of her neighbour’s Black-billed Magpies that didn’t seem to want to visit her.  Then, one day, she was woken at a tricky point in a dream, by a Magpie just outside.  She cautions against reaching for tomes on symbolism that might interfere with our ability to listen and communicate with birds, and has a fine rant about the appropriation of “Native American symbolism”: Will We Listen? 

In a previous post she wrote about a moment, when grief-stricken after the death of a beloved cat, she noticed a raven on a lamppost … On Grief

and has recently celebrated the devoted parenting of a pair of Western Kingbirds, Tyrannus verticalis who raised their young in her carport, thanks to her own family adapting their routines: they grow up so very fast

Denise Brown a.k.a Phoenix also writes about a domestic drama involving a pair of house finches that chose to nest in the eaves of her porch.  All seemed to be going well, until a local crow appeared: Crows are my Favourite Birds

Chas Clifton ponders his relationship with birds when out hunting or fishing.  Perhaps the flipside of new animism is that because we realise that its not ‘All About Us’, we become too reluctant to listen to what birds are trying to tell us: Looking at Birds, Listening to Birds

Lorna Smithers’ bardic poetry (I hear a drum when I read it), rooted in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire, includes some heartfelt paens to her bird neighbours, who clearly lead wholly independent lives, yet suggest the possibility of inspirational relationship :


blackbird song


the robin on the trysting oak

Heather Awen at Eaarth Animist brings a differently abled perspective to bear on Odin’s Ravens, and why Munnin (memory) is so important.  I know the feeling.  At least I noticed that I brushed my teeth twice last night 🙂  Odins Ravens and Being a Homo Sapien

She also shares a powerful image of her Shrine for a Starling

John D ponders the origin of the Shinto Torii (from Tori-i bird’s roost).  One suggestion is that these structures may have served as a perch for chickens and roosters at the gateway to villages, roosters being revered for waking the Sun Goddess.  Another possibility is that they belong to the Phoenix as a symbol of fire and renewal:  torii origins

Jesse Wolf Hardin celebrates the return of Say’s Phoebes Sayornis saya, a little flycatcher that has bonded to the river canyon he calls home.  The female makes a particular bubbling trilling sound when entering her nest, followed by  a few contented ‘Pd-weep Pd-weeps’:  the phoebes are back

Red Raven writes about the receptiveness attained in walking trance, and has a particular way of inviting the spirits of place and collectives in an area to make contact with him:  my vessel of existence 2

Lupa writes about being called to come out of her shell and explore her new surroundings by bold deep blue jays, in  Scrub and Stellers Jays as Bioregional Totems

Mary Good at Terrallectualism reports on turf wars between Sharp Shinned Hawks and Crows in her neighbourhood, and suspects that for the crows there’s an element of enjoyment involved: Crows v Hawks: the Update

Barb Magnuson and Larry Kimball are naturalists and wildlife photographers who found us, and offered a post about their local Piñoneros.

Animist Jottings has three new posts on Birds:  Birds and Other People, is named in response to a huge new bird tome that has just been published.  Two Corvid Stories, Ted Hughes’ Crow and the Battle of the Birds, looks at human stories about birds.  Birds and Me, Two Personal Stories is fairly self evident.  Confirmed aviphiles may also be interested in previous posts on the Common Kingfisher, and Peregrine Dreams-1 and Peregrine Dreams-2.

Next month’s ABC theme is BIOREGION.  Contributions to Lupa by the 1st September please.

More about Animist Blog Carnival

Please note: I’ve only had intermittent access to WordPress for three weeks due to a bout of over-zealous filtering of internet content in the U.K (intended to block child sexual abuse images), hence the delay.  I’ve still had limited access today, so have not been able to check all links.    Brian.


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