felled on migration

the clouds in his eyes

Apparently the chestnut color in the tail feathers means this is a great-crested flycatcher and not an eastern wood-pewee as I’d initially assumed. A flycatcher regardless. [Edit] A crack birder is telling me it looks like a catbird to him. I didn’t even think of that! IDing dead birds turns out to be surprisingly difficult, without all the little mannerisms and noises to go off of.

I’m a big believer in “first thought, worst thought,” so I want to share my first attempt here because of how terrible it was:

killed by a fence the migrant flycatcher’s empty claws

So obvious, yet needlessly confusing (Killed how? Do small birds really have claws?). The need for an at least slightly more oblique relationship between image and text is ultimately what led me past my overly clever first impulses.

Deer fences do kill unwary birds who collide with them from time to time — a tragic consequence of trying to save the forest from a super-abundant herbivore in the absence of natural predation.

a screech owl’s descending quaver

I forget who I am

Both the haiku and the photo are from last night, but I didn’t think to combine them until now. Screech owls have been calling every evening for the past three nights, perhaps prompted by the full moon. The photo is of the eastern red cedar which I planted next to the house 30 years ago and for some reason never expected to get quite so large. Last night I remembered there’s an ancient spotlight, at least as old as I am, that the tree has grown over, and I checked to see whether the bulb still works.

The font is called Frankfurter Venetian. It seems almost too perfect here.


bird’s nest of roots
nowhere to turn

One of those images so laden with potential significance that I had to spend quite a lot of time deciding what not to include, e.g. the fact that I found the nest on the road, the (hopefully obvious) fact that it fell out of a tree, etc. Even once I settled on turn/turning as the key abstraction, there were many enticing possibilities to rule out.

All of which is to say I’m not entirely sure there isn’t a better haiku hiding in this image. Perhaps that why I chose to half-hide the image behind the words.

It kind of looks like an album cover, though. Perhaps a more understated approach to the haiga would’ve been better.

rain still falling from the trees

wood thrush song

A nano-puddle in a fallen oak leaf. A wood thrush was singing while I crouched to get the shot. I was working with a much broader crop when the limitations of the free Snapseed app—most of the best font options, including this one, don’t permit line breaks—led me to experiment with bleed-through of contrasting colors at ~50% opacity to emphasize the semantic break.


small gray feathers melting free of the snowpacks

fox’s leftover
junco feathers

Process notes

I notice that this is the third haiga in a row where the haiku pivots on a pun (here, junco/junk). This is a departure for me though in placing the text in the dead center, foregrounding it primarily to knit together an otherwise not terribly impressive image. But is the match of text to image too literal?

This came out of a haiku-gathering walk yesterday in which I was seeing photos and hearing words almost simultaneously, deep in the participatory magic of original making. So I’m putting my misgivings about literalism aside and trusting in the process.

I should add that I don’t know for sure that these junco feathers are the result of gray fox predation—it could’ve been a red fox, coyote, barred owl, etc. I have seen small fox tracks in the vicinity and our neighbor’s game camera recently captured a gray fox so we know at least one is around. So I think this is easily covered by poetic license.