What I find so compelling about birds in flight
What do I find so compelling about birds in Flight that I need to draw these flight patterns? And it is a need - a compulsion - my fingers itch for paper and pen when I see them. And when I cannot draw them there is a tiny stab of grief amidst the joy and wonder as I watch them soar.
On one hand, it is a kind of scientific interest (for lack of a better word). What are these types of birds doing today in this weather. It is interesting to see the patterns change from summer to winter, from calm to windy, from gull to heron to goose. Sometimes especially on cold days it seems they are simply in a hurry to get from one location to another. Other days they legitimately look like they are playing. They dive and chase each other, making swirling spectacles in the sky.
On the other hand, it is a much more selfish pursuit to take this time for myself doing what I love. The access I gain to my pure emotions as I watch them is intriguing. The rhythms of nature seem to tear away the artifice we use to hide ourselves from others but also from ourselves. Sadness. Grief. Longing. Pure joy. They all seem more readily available to me as I sit alone and watch the birds in flight. My favorite is when you see one after another shooting back and forth, hurriedly, across the horizon again and again but then one bird will fly into view lazily turning and letting the wind buffet its feathers. It is the visual equivalent of hearing a child's laughter and at a somber wake.
Then there's the quiet time of the morning when you only get a few birds stretching their wings and flying, and how the closer the Sun comes, the more and more they will fill the air. It almost feels like worship - like you are watching some sacred rite they hold to welcome the day back into existence once again.
Then there are the times they all seem to follow some unseen path each rising and dipping at the same place above the river.
Then the way the sparrows' and songbirds' tiny wings seem to flutter so vigorously while the gulls float and spin at ease with their larger span.
Then there is the way the birds on the far shore of the river behave differently from the ones flying over open water, and differently still from the ones flying nearer to this shore.
I could continue, but I will stop here. Needless to say, their movement is constantly different and endlessly fascinating to me and the best part is that I never know what I will discover when I leave my house each morning.
So I urge you the next time your gaze is captured by a darting bird, take a few moments and watch what it does. Watch the path it takes across your backyard or over the traffic signals at the stop light. Imagine that it holds a long black ribbon clutched it its tiny feet and follow the dance in the sky.