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.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Purple Gallinules Build A Nest

These chicken-sized birds are so beautiful!  My pictures don't do them justice -- you'd have to see the riot of color to believe it.  Swimming, they resemble ducks, but they are more often walking on floating vegetation or poking around along the edge of brackish water.  Purple Gallinules are tropical birds that favor the marshes around here.  This happy couple was photographed at Brazos Bend State Park.

Purple Gallinules build their nests in bowls of grass, atop a floating mat of vegetation.  The female lays five to ten eggs and trades off incubating duties with the male.  This female was already sitting on eggs while the male continued to bring her grasses and twigs to improve the nest.

The Purple Gallinule is related to the Common Moorhen or Common Gallinule, also residents of our local freshwater marshes.  Common Moorhens are also boldly colored, but they lack that pretty blue forehead and the rich iridescence of the Purple Gallinule.  Perhaps the Common Moorhens were a bit ahead of the Purple Gallinules in raising their families -- we saw many chicks, family groups and adolescents all over the park.

This young moorhen lacks the distinctive coloring of the adult.

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