A2Z 2021 – Birds – Lark

Featured Photo by Dimitris Vetsikas

  • Physical Description: The horned lark is a small brown bird with a buff chest, a black mask, and a black patch surrounded by pale yellow on its throat. This bird has two small feather crests on either side of the top of its head, giving rise to its name. Larks are small to medium-sized birds, about 8 inches in length, with a wingspan of approximately 12.5 inches. They weigh about 1.5 ounces
  • Geographic Distribution: The horned lark is the only true lark native to North America. It is found from northern Canada and down to the southern United States and Mexico
  • Environment: This bird favors grassy, open plains.
Horned Lark Image Credit: Pinterest

Myths, Folklore, and Cultural Associations

Folklore tells us that the lark sings and flies as close to heaven as possible to demonstrate its joy at being alive, something we evoke when we say that someone is “as happy as a lark.” The collective noun for a group of larks is an “exultation,” a beautiful reminder of the joy associated with this bird.

Larks were once considered game birds, and were eaten as part of luxurious feasts. The cheery French-Canadian folksong “Alouette” is about plucking a lark, a fact that astonishes many people when the words are translated for them.

A “lark is a term for a playful romp or fun activity, often perceived as irresponsible in some way. The word lark is also used to describe a person who functions best when he rises early in the morning and goes to bed early.

The Colorado state bird is the prairie lark bunting, which is actually a member of the sparrow family. The meadowlark, the state bird of Kansas, is not a true lark either; it belongs to the Sturnella genus, which also includes some blackbirds.

Omens and Divinatory Meaning

If you see a lark, it could be telling you to cast off the shackles of responsibility for a bit and go on a figurative lark. Play hooky; visit the zoo, the aquarium, or the museum. Get some ice cream, or treat yourself to a new book and a full-fat latte. Do something out of the ordinary, something you’ve always wanted to do but felt wasn’t dignified enough, or something you couldn’t possibly do because you were too grown up.

The lark can also be telling you to experience more joy in your life. Are you working so hard that you’ve forgotten how to have fun? Think of the image of the skylark, flying as high as it can while singing in sheer exultation. You can figuratively sing out to celebrate the things you love in your life. The lark may be reminding you that you do, in fact, have things to sing about.

Associated Energies: Joy, celebration, playfulness
Associated Season: Summer
Element Associations: Air
Color Association: Brown, beige

REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Reflections

I know the author of this book said that her book wasn’t meant an exhaustive reference, but I realized the focus of her geographic distributions is limited to the North America region often. I know that there are larks all throughout the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

There are so many different types of larks out there. I thought this Magpie looked like a skunk! 🙂

Magpie Lark Image by picman2 from Pixabay

Yes! I’ve been working very hard as of late. My face is breaking out as if I was a teenager again. However I’m planning a trip to the Natural Bridge Caverns with some friends for my birthday in a few weeks. It’s been a long while since I went spelunking in a cave. I’m also looking forward to a live Q&A session with the author of the book, The Midnight Library.

“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

Christopher McCandless

I think of how fascinated I am by so many pictures and angles of sunsets and sunrises even though it’s just one sun. In “The Midnight Library”, there’s was a quote about fish that makes me think about how important it is for us to have fresh experiences.

“Fish get depressed when they have a lack of stimulation. A lack of everything. When they are just there, floating in a tank that resembles nothing at all.”

Haig, Matt. The Midnight Library (p. 83). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Maybe the sound of wood larks would help me mediate and relax a bit, before I take on my next assignment. 🙂

A2Z 2021 – Birds – Kingfisher

Image by Timo Schlüter from Pixabay

  • Physical Description: A small bird with a long pointed beak, the belted kingfisher has a slate-blue head with a crest, a slate-blue back, a white front, and a white collar around its neck. The female has additional rust-colored markings along her chest and sides and is more brightly colored than the male.
  • Geographic Distribution: Most kingfisher species are found in the Old World, but the belted kingfisher is found throughout North and Central America.
  • Environment: The belted kingfisher lives near bodies of water such as rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes.

Myths, Folklore, and Cultural Associations

In general, the kingfisher is seen as a symbol of protection and a good luck charm. Legend has it that the Old World kingfisher had more muted colors than the belted kingfisher of the Americas. Supposedly the belted kingfisher received its beautifully colored plumage when it was the first bird released from the Ark after the flood waters were confirmed to have receded, and therefore was the only bird to catch the final rays of the setting sun on its breast and the blue of the twilight sky on its back.

One family of the kingfisher suborder is named Halcyonidae, derived from the same root as our word “halcyon,” meaning idyllic, peaceful, or nostalgic. Greek mythology gives us the story of Alcyone, the daughter of Aeolus (king of the winds), who drowned herself in grief when she discovered that her husband had drowned.

Herbert James Draper – Alcyone searches for Ceyx

The gods rewarded her devotion by turning her into a kingfisher, and Aeolus forbade the winds to blow during the halcyon days (the seven days before and after the winter solstice) so that the kingfisher could lay its eggs. The fabled “halcyon bird” was said to build its nest on the water itself, something that could only be done during the halcyon days when the seas were calm.

In old Europe, carrying a kingfisher feather was thought to provide protection from misfortune. Hanging a dead kingfisher by a string was thought to serve as a wind indicator, as the bird’s beak was said to point in the direction from which the wind would come

Omens and Divinatory Meaning

Sighting a kingfisher is, in general, a lucky thing. Noting which way the kingfisher was facing may be valuable, as this may be the direction from which good news or an opportunity will come to you.

The kingfisher may bear the message for you to be the one who calms troubled waters, as the legendary halcyon bird was said to do. The halcyon is also said to have possessed the ability to calm winds – you may be the one with the power to clear up muddled communication that’s dogging a particular situation in your life.

The halcyon connection may also be a message to evoke some wonderful memories of your past in order to enrich the present.

Associated Energies: Precision, timing, good fortune, peace, calm
Associated Season: Summer
Element Associations: Air, Water
Color Association: Grey, blue, white, rust, green, red

REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Reflections

Wow, I love this kingfisher’s hair do! It’s like a mohawk! 🙂 The featured photo also reminds me of a picture that a fellow blogger features, Christine Bolton at Poetry for Healing.

“…evoke some wonderful memories of your past in order to enrich the present.”

Last night, I was hooked on reading a book to the very end. It’s called the Midnight Library. It’s made me think of all my own experiences in my life that has led me where I’m at today.

“you may be the one with the power to clear up muddled communication that’s dogging a particular situation in your life…”

There’s some things I want to take initiative on soon amongst my friends and family!

A2Z 2021 – Birds – Juan Fernandez Firecrown

Featured Photo by Héctor Gutiérrez Guzmán 

  • Physical Description: The male is 11.5–12 cm long and weighs 10.9 g. Its color is mostly cinnamon orange, excepting dark grey wings, black bill, and iridescent gold crown. The female is 10 cm long and weighs 6.8 g. Its underparts are white with a dappling of very small green and black areas; the crown is iridescent blue, and upperparts are blue-green.
  • Geographic Distribution: Found today solely on Isla Robinson Crusoe, one of the three-island Juan Fernández archipelago belonging to Chile
  • Environment: Inhabits forests, thickets, and gardens
Female Juan Fernández Firecrown by Fabrice Schmitt

Myths, Folklore, and Cultural Associations

The English name “hummingbird” comes form the hum created by the rapid speed at which the bird’s wings flap. John James Audubon called hummingbirds “glittering fragments of rainbows,” and they have also been called flying jewels. The sheer beauty of the hummingbird is insprirational.

Urban legend tells of hummingbirds hitching migratory rides on the backs of larger birds such as geese, for it was believed that something so tiny could not possibly fly so far on its own.

A Mayan legend tells that the Creator, after making all the other birds, had a pile of small colorful scraps left over, and fashioned a tiny bird out of them. Being made of leftovers is hardly a handicap, however. The Aztecs honored the hummingbirds as a symbol of vitality and energy. The Aztec hummingbird god Huitzilopochitli was associated with war and the sun, and the Aztecs believed that warriors would be reincarnated as hummingbirds. Dead hummingbirds were carried as talismans for good fortune in war, or to enhance a warrior’s battle skill.

In Central America, the hummingbird is seen as a symbol of sexual energy and, by extension, a symbol of love and attraction. In the American Southwest, the hummingbird was associated with brining rain and much-needed water. The form of the hummingbird was sometimes used as a decoration on water jars, and the hummingbird is part of ceremonial rain dances in both the Hopi and Zuni tribes, symbolized by a dancer dressed as a hummingbird who dances to summon rain for the crops.

Trinidad and Tobago calls itself “the land of the hummingbird.” The hummingbird is featured on the country’s coat of arms and the penny; it is also the mascot of the Caribbean Airlines.

Juan Fernandez female Firecrown feeding. Photo by Kevin D. Mack

Omens and Divinatory Meaning

If you see a hummingbird, chances are good that the message is somehow connected with vitality. The hummingbird may be telling you to watch your energy and not squander it. Although a hummingbird has plenty of vitality, it is carefully apportioned for survival. The hummingbird does not have time or energy to play; it is focused on its basic needs.

What are your basic needs? Are you dividing your energy and attention among too many things, as enjoyable as they may be? Take stock of your commitments and your extracurricular activities, and prioritize them. Make sure to prioritize those things that encourage relaxation and renewal, as well as work- and family-related responsibilities.

In addition to warning you to watch how you spend your energy, the hummingbird reminds you to take joy in the simple things, to literally slow down and smell the flowers. Bury your nose in a branch of a flowering shrub, or walk among the paths of a public garden to refresh yourself. You need to feed your emotional and spiritual selves as well as your physical being. The hummingbird, with its love of bright, sweet things and its colorful, iridescent plumage, gently scolds you to nourish that side of yourself as well, and to embrace joy.

The frequency with which the hummingbird must eat also reminds you to take plenty of small breaks to restore and maintain your energy. Ignoring your basic needs is self-destructive in the long run.

The hummingbird’s message can be summed up as urging you to live life to the fullest within your means; don’t hold back. Give it your all, but remember to relax and sip the sweetness along the way. Make sure to balance all your commitments in order to best apportion your energy.

Associated energies: Joy, energy, energy management, sweetness, vitality
Associated seasons: Summer
Element association: Air
Color associations: Green, Red, White

REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Juan Fernandez Firecrown Hummingbird Critically Endangered

Reflections

Poor endangered Firecrowns! It’s sad that native cats eat them and rats eat their eggs! If only falcons could be their friends if they weren’t birds of prey.

“Lack of time is actually lack of priorities”

Timothy Ferris

Today’s divinatory meanings have really been hitting home with me! What do I have to say no to in order to say yes to something else? Where have I been spreading out too thinly? I feel that this is one of my major vices and something I can improve upon. Perhaps I experience FOMO (fear of missing out) to a high degree. I think about the time I spend here on this blog and your time spent here with me. Thank you, I hope you are getting as much value as you can from my posts.

“Your life will be a blessed and balanced experience if you first honor your identity and priority.”

Russell M. Nelson

But perhaps, my priorities are often murky because I feel like my identity isn’t set in stone? Am I still exploring aspects of myself that I’m blind to and that are unknown to me? Is it hard for me to develop strong roots or depth in an area because I enjoy a variety of experiences?

Often I think of bloggers who make it their priority to post as often as they do. These bloggers sound like the real deal. How often do bloggers reevaluate their priorities? Spend more time with their families in person, work on things in their real world. Place your time where it’s important to you.

A2Z 2021 – Birds – Ibis

Image by ❤️A life without animals is not worth living❤️ from Pixabay

  • Physical Description: The ibis is a wading bird with a long narrow neck and head, and a downward-curving thick beak measuring an average of 26 inches long. The ibis shares visual similarities with the heron, but the ibis’s beak is curved, whereas the heron’s is straight. The white-faced ibis has dark feathers with a burgundy sheen and a white mask around the eye area. It measures roughly 20 inches long and weighs approximately a pound.
  • Geographic Distribution: The whit-faced ibis, the most common species in North America, is found in the central and western United States, down through Central America, and into the southern part of South America.
  • Environment: The ibis is found in coastal regions as well as swamps, marshes, and wetlands.
Image by Scottslm from Pixabay

Myths, Folklore, and Cultural Associations

Folklore says the ibis is the last bird to take shelter before a hurricane strikes, and the first to emerge once the danger has passed.

The ibis was a sacred bird in ancient Egypt. The ibis family name, Threskiornithidae, is Greek for “sacred bird.” The Egyptian god of knowledge and writing, Thoth, is portrayed as having the head of an ibis.

The American stork is sometimes called “wood ibis,” as settlers confused the New World herons and storks with the Old World ibis.

Image by mollyroselee from Pixabay

Omens and Divinatory Meaning

Because the ibis is connected to knowledge and writing, seeing this bird can mean that you need to address the process of learning in your life. Have you been struggling with your methods of learning? Try something different. If you’re usually an active learner who absorbs information through hands-on learning, try a visual-based learning style, or a verbal style.

Did you abandon your studies at some time? Perhaps it’s time to go back to school. If you cannot attend full-time, then perhaps take a course here or there to refresh your skills, or catch up on new information available in your career field.

Associated energies: Wisdom, knowledge, communication via writing, connection to the sacred
Associated seasons: Spring, Summer
Element association: Water, Air
Color associations: White, Black, Red

REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Reflections

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Boy, does the divinatory meaning really speak to me! Perhaps, I need to switch gears and discover a new method of learning. I do enjoy the process of learning something new. Gandhi’s quote makes me think of all the libraries in the world, and how I would never be able to read all these books within my lifetime. I enjoy gleaning from other’s experiences and book reviews. Roy’s quote brings some dimension to the phrase, “you live and learn.” You gain experience, and learn from it. Repeat. Constantly entering a different place or phase in your life so long as you continue to try out new things.

“The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence; the past is a place of learning, not a place of living.”

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

A2Z 2021- Birds – Albatross

Featured Photo by Craig K. Lorenz

  • Physical description: The albatross has a long, straight bill with a hook on the end with two tubes along it, one on each side, to allow the bird to expel seawater taken in with food. Its plumage ranges from browns to whites. The black-footed albatross measures approximately 27 inches long, has a wingspan of approximately 80 inches, and a weight of 7 to 9 pounds.
  • Geographic Distribution: Most albatrosses are found in the southern hemisphere, with the exception of albatrosses found in the North Pacific, which are found off the west coast of North America.
  • Environment: The albatrosses are found in coastal areas.
Black-browed albatross family on Steeple Jason Island, Falkland Islands
Photo by Steve Bloom

Myths, Folklore, and Cultural Associations

Early on albatrosses were considered to be guides or incarnations of wandering souls lost at sea, which is why it was considered unlucky to shoot or eat one. They were also used as weather indicators, usually meaning that stormy weather was imminent. However the albatross became associated with sin, guilt, and punishment with the publication of Samuel Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. In this tale, the albatross is a symbol of guilt and burden, worn about the neck of the sailor who shot it down, thus the bird became seen as the initiator of a series of bad luck.

At length did cross an Albatross,
Thorough the fog it came;
As if it had been a Christian soul,
We hailed it in God’s name.
And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner’s hollo!

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Omens and Divinatory Meaning

Albatrosses spend a lot of time gliding, rarely needing to flap their wings. This suggests an efficient use of the resources available to them. If you see an albatross, ask yourself if you’re deploying your energy to the best uses. Albatrosses use air currents to propel themselves. Look at your life to see what energies you can borrow to help you along and conserve your own energy.

An albatross can also tell you to stay aloft. These birds can spend weeks on end in the air, never fully landing or returning to shore. Keep flying; trust yourself to soar. Don’t constantly rush back home to feel safe. Be strong, and strike out on your own.

The albatross’s strong connection to its family breeding grounds may inspire you to check in with your family. If you’ve never done so, take a look at your family history or your cultural traditions. What country or countries do your ancestors come from? What can you learn from their customs and heritage? Learning these kinds of things can enrich who you are, and your sense of self.

Associated energies: Conservation of energy, trust in yourself, family, heritage
Associated seasons: Fall, winter
Element associations: Air, water
Color associations: Grey, black, beige, white

REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Reflections

I’m silently laughing at how I’m going to reflect on Arin’s divinatory meanings for 26 birds when I haven’t seen them yet! It’s like reading all the horoscopes and have each of them apply to my life in some way. I’m going to get acquainted with each of them in case I DO have my meaningful moment. These themes are interesting for me to ponder, however. I wonder where I can “borrow” energy. I feel like I rely so much on technology and gadgets that make my life easier. More energy is always wanted! Maybe that’s why I enjoy working on a team that I can depend on. That way I don’t shoulder most of the work. Rushing home to feel safe is such a big temptation. It takes plenty of courage to strike out on one’s own. Lately, I have been thinking of my ancestors and what qualities I may have inherited as I go about my day. These albatrosses are so much fun to watch! I was engrossed by The Midway Project’s film: https://www.albatrossthefilm.com/watch-albatross