Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

These are pretty common ducks around here but I really enjoy seeing them.  They are handsome, in their way, if a bit ungainly.  They are tree ducks, and seem to prefer perching in trees, on roofs and even power lines.  Whistling Ducks are year-round residents of the Texas Gulf Coast, and of my neighbor's trees:  it's amusing to see them attempt to grasp a tree limb with their big, orange, webbed feet.

Pairs most often partner for life, and work together to raise their clutch of nestlings.  They like to nest in trees, but may nest on the ground, in areas away from predators.  They are night-time feeders of grasses and water plants.  Previously threatened, their population is now stable or increasing.  Around the country, supporters are even installing nest boxes!

Birders from all over the United States and the world come to Texas to see the Black-Bellied Whistling Duck.  Many of us are lucky enough to see them right in our own back yard.

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