NatureLog - My Nature & Nature Travel Blog
Animals Through My Traveling Lens
As I shared in my Arrivals and Departures blog, there are many arrivals that I look forward to as I wish the northbound birds Godspeed until I see them again in the fall. You don't have to go far for nature travel - it could be right in your backyard. Just this week I was happy to see 2 different species of dragonfly in our backyard – one the unmistaken bright orange of the Flame Skimmer. And just a week or so prior, the first of the season’s Valley Carpenter bees arrived. The male, aka the “teddy bear bee”, with his gorgeous golden “fur” and the female, with her gorgeous iridescent wings, always delight us. As the UC Davis article describes, these beauties are pollinators, not pests so we hope that all can enjoy them.
Aside from these new arrivals and some different varieties of smaller butterflies, I am especially happy to welcome back the tiny but fierce Black-chinned Hummingbirds. I watched in shock as one tiny male, as if to announce his group’s arrival, harassed a relatively large California Towhee across our back fence. At first, he zipped back and forth at his back. When that wasn’t enough to get the Towhee’s attention, he flew to his face and zigzagged back and forth as the Towhee progressed along. Luckily for the Hummingbird, the Towhee chose to simply ignore this tiny little annoyance. Of course these moments only arrive – fleetingly – when I am without camera in hand. ;-)
And so it begins… the next level of backyard entertainment for the summer. Nature travel at its best - when you don't have to go anywhere. We’ve watched over the ensuing days as they continuously harass their own species, as well as the Anna’s Hummingbirds and anyone else who dares to be in their “newly re-established” territory! They tend to enjoy the purple salvia and the cuphea the most. I remind my significant other of this fact whenever he laments how “overgrown” our backyard flower garden has become. He, too, enjoys the entertainment of our tiny winged friends and has acquiesced, going with the flow of the growth in the cover and food our backyard provides to everyone. The beauty, after all, is in the eye of the beholder and for me, the more birds, the more important the flourishing - albeit overgrown - flower wonderland becomes!
If you don’t know much about Black-chinned Hummers, like most Hummingbird species, their “backstory”, IMO, is fascinating. The way I know they’ve arrived is hearing their distinctive “squeaking”. Both males and females get quite vocal, always tipping me to their location even while camouflaged in our tree cover. (Shhh…don’t tell them I’m onto them). Another thing I’ve learned from different sources is their bold habit of nesting close to large predators. Yes – you can find this little hummer nesting right next to a hawk’s nest! From what researchers have indicated, this is a good way for the hummer to gain some nest protection from its own predators. This tiny little Hummingbird species, thanks to banding efforts, has also been discovered to live as old as 11 years! For their size and energy exertion, scientists wouldn’t expect such long lifespans. And from their “summer vacations” as far north as Canada, east to Oklahoma and of course here along the West Coast, every fall they migrate south to Mexico. I usually see the last ones in our yard in mid-to-late September, and notice their return around 21 April. I keep both an eye and ear out for their arrival.
To enjoy an intimate depiction of their lives, follow the lovely story of a female raising her brood in the gorgeous and entertaining award-winning movie, First Flight: A Mother Hummingbird’s Story, currently viewable on Amazon Prime. Filmed in the Las Vegas area backyard of documentary filmmakers, the mother and chicks' story is captured in the movie and a book as well.
If you love Hummingbirds as much as I do, you can visit the Eyes4Nature Hummingbird collection here. But I do hope you get to enjoy the fun of their antics live! And my heartfelt thanks to the wildlife rehabilitators out there who rescue even these tiniest of creatures! Happy Spring! Remember that this is the season of nesting, so be sure to do all of your tree trimming at a later time. You never know what birds may be using your trees and shrubs for their nesting needs. And as always, contact your local wildlife rehabilitator if you find a bird or newborn chick in need. Enjoy the season!!
Rare and Random Encounters
You might not know it but that rare, random encounter with a wild animal in your backyard, at a park, or elsewhere may very well have a message for you. The great indigenous peoples of our world had a deep connection to our animal brethren and learned from them in many ways. Yet over the years, from the many competing demands of TV, computers, our phones, and more stimulation for our attention, we lost that connection. The good news is that it’s still right there, whenever you choose to tap into it. Today, we are fortunate that Shamans and other indigenous people still abound and continue teaching what great wisdom our wild animal brethren can bring to us. I’ve had numerous examples in my own life in which a particular animal showed up. I looked up the meaning for that animal, and sure enough it had profound meaning for something I was experiencing in my life right at that moment. I have also had readings from others who have told me that a Hawk or other animal was at a particular place and time to deliver a message to me. These rare encounters are exactly that. Were you walking alone on a hiking path when a deer, coyote, bear, or other animal appeared from nowhere? Have you been in your backyard when an unusual bird species for your yard, such as a hawk or a crow, showed up? There are many resources – including Google and books on the topic - where you can learn more. I keep an app and a book to look up the meaning of specific animals that I encounter. See the Resources section below for some examples. Likewise, if you have a deep and unexplained connection to a particular animal species, they may be what is referred to as a “spirit animal”, "power animal" or “animal totem” in your life. They may stay with you your whole life to provide meaning or may stay for a finite period of time until you learn the “medicine” of their wisdom or message. Others may also show up with new lessons to guide you. We often miss the opportunity for their guidance until we become mindful and present to them.
Whale and dolphin energy
Because of their higher level of consciousness, the whales and dolphins are examples of animals who are waiting to be of service to us any time that we need them. Whether you’ve been in the water with them or on a boat encountering them, you know the energy already. It’s magical and difficult to describe. Encounters with these special animals leave us with a lightness, a happiness, a joy in our hearts that is truly unparalleled. Their healing also dovetails nicely with, although seemingly unrelated to, the healing power of sound therapy aka vibrational medicine and biofield tuning. Beyond any singular encounter I have had with whales in the ocean – and I have had many over the years – the one with the most profound and lasting effect on me was one I couldn’t even see - a "singer". Singers are typically individual males, singing while hanging suspended in deeper water. I could dedicate an entire blog to these songs, how they differ between hemispheres, how they evolve each year, the frequencies they contain. But what I so acutely recall is the reverberation – shifting from one part of my body to another as the frequency changed from very deep to very high - as I glided there in the water. Feeling revitalized, full of joy and amazement, I was forever changed.
“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.” - Nikola Tesla
When I snorkel off the coast of Maui during winter "Humpbacks season", I yearn to feel this again, as their songs carry as shallow as 3 feet under the surface. It’s not the same proximity or intensity of the sounds of my single whale that day in the Atlantic, but the Maui Humpback songs again fill me with tremendous joy. If you can’t swim, snorkel, or get to places where you can hear and feel the whales sing, not to worry. You can tap into that same energy anywhere. There are widely-available recordings of their songs – on CDs, online, on YouTube – and you can use them while meditating even thousands of miles away from them, to bring healing and joy into your life when you want or need it. You can also attend crystal bowl sessions – or buy the same bowls yourself - that use the same frequencies our cetacean friends use to communicate. Example resources at the end of the article. By the way, one way to say thanks and give back to them for all of the love and healing they bring to us is to join the monthly Global Healing Meditation with others to bring healing to their waters around the world.
In part 2 of this blog post, I’ll talk about our connection to our pets.
There are many wonderful resources below and beyond. I hope this list helps get you started. Be well, be open, and may your journey be richer thanks to the help of our animal brethren…..
Totem/Spirit Animal meaning
Animal Speak by Ted Andrews
Spirit Animals on Facebook
How to Work with Animal Spirit Guides by Dr. Steven Farmer
Pocket Guide to Spirit Animals by Dr. Steven Farmer
Dolphin and Whale energy
If you're interested in bringing nature-themed products into your home, please visit us here. For ocean-specific themed products of whales and other ocean friends, please see our Ocean Lovers collection here. New products added regularly.
Are you paying attention to who has left and who is arriving in your yard? It may be subtle at first – the numbers diminish little by little. But soon, you’ll realize that you may not have seen a particular species in the backyard for some time. It’s funny – I often find myself a little sad when I don’t see my usual ‘friends’ in the backyard. Then I’ll stop, visualize them on a safe journey north or south, and return to a place of gratitude. Gratitude that:
1 - they spent the winter or summer in our backyard, and
2 - friends from last year – and maybe some new friends – will be arriving soon.
In fact, just the other day, I looked out just in time to catch a glimpse of the gorgeous copper of a Rufous Hummingbird enjoying the red salvia in the garden! It was a first for me and I was thrilled. These little surprises can bring joy into our lives when we make the space for it.
Another surprise encounter in the last week: a Nuttall’s Woodpecker visiting our mealworm suet. I hear and see Nuttalls regularly in our neighborhood while walking the dogs. But never in our backyard. Surprisingly, he clamored through a potato plant to watch the feeder and fight briefly with another bird for a spot at it. This time of year, birds are pairing up, hormones are racing, and little ones need to be fed, so it’s often now that we witness such odd behaviors.
Over the last two years, we also suddenly started having Orange-crowned Warbler visitors. I was delighted to catch a glimpse of one over our Cuphea, then saw it return, make its way through another cuphea plant and before I knew it, fought with the other birds over the mealworm suet. This year, it even dared to take on the hummingbirds, visiting the hummingbird feeder on our patio! I thought I was seeing things. Indeed, another one of this year’s surprises!
Of course, this is a larger metaphor for taking stock of all of the nice surprises and messages in our lives. What magical moment did you have today? How about one that sparked a new idea at some recent point in your life? Maybe you could sit down right now as you read this and think about your last 24 hours. Your last week. Your last month. Just start there – maybe it’s only 2 to 3 things that you recall. That’s ok. Build muscle memory to do this on a daily basis and before you know it, you’ve started your own gratitude journal. In your head or on paper, gratitude is a catalyst for so many good things in life.
"What magical moment did you have today?"
So go ahead. Take stock. Open yourself up to the magic. Maybe it’s that new butterfly who just arrived. Or a new boss who suddenly cares about you and your career. It can literally be anything - from any part of your life. Wherever and whenever, cherish it and build upon it……and let the magic begin!
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Pamela, Eyes4Nature's proprietor, enjoying life out in the field among the animals and the peacefulness of nature.