Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk

The Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk

During the evolution of the hawk species, one particular branch, the males of the Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk, started attacking animals purely to satisfy their own vanity.

The male Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk would build a nest in the traditional manner. Then It would try to attract a mate. The unusual method of attraction used by this bird was not a display of hunting prowess or an elaborate dance. The male hawk would clinically remove the tail from any mammal it could find and then hang these tails from the nest to try and attract a female hawk. Over the years, the squirrel hawk must have deduced that squirrel tails worked the best and so decided it could hunt rats, mice, and other rodents for food, but squirrels should be left alone as their tails were more important than their meat for the preservation of this hawk species.

The male hawk would place the squirrel tails in fetching arrangements designed to impress the female hawk. Some hawks would drape the tails over the sticks in the nest to make the nest more comfortable for their potential partners. Other hawks would hang the tails from the nest, where they would sway in the wind and catch the eye of any passing females.

The unusual behaviour of these birds has also led to a change in the appearance of Ecuadorian squirrels, whose tails are, on average, 65% shorter than in other squirrel species. These squirrels also sit on their tails when at rest unlike other squirrels whose tails stick out behind them when they are sitting still eating a nut. It’s also believed the Ecuadorian  Ground Squirrel may have evolved from particular families of Ecuadorian Squirrels who lived close to hawk’s nests and who were attacked more than other squirrels.

These squirrels confused early explorers who would see a squirrel that had been attacked by an Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk and conclude they had found the squirrel equivalent of the Manx Cat.  Once the explanation was discovered, some Victorian explorers even began to explore the Isle of Man, looking for a Manx Cat Hawk, a potential distant relation of the Ecuadorian Squirrel Hawk, but no evidence of this bird was ever found.  

NWW Photo Prompt ~ Alien Places

Alien Places
Alien Places

Welcome to the September 15th, 2015 edition of the NWW Photo Prompt!

The New West Writers Photo Prompt is a twice-monthly challenge for writers of all genres. It’s easy to participate — and we encourage everyone to do so. Just spend a moment with the image above and write whatever comes to mind. A couple of lines, or a couple thousand words. Prose, non-fiction, poetry, even a six word story, if you like.

There are no winners (we’re all writers sharing our words) and no rules. Well, one — be respectful with your words.

You can announce your post with a link in a comment below, or if you link to this page from your post, we’ll publish the trackback link in the comment section of this page. Add an “nww photo prompt” tag to your post and we’ll also provide a link to your response in the next challenge. This post outlines these few simple steps.

To get you going, one of our writing group’s members will have the first go at the prompt. Base your post on theirs or go a completely different way.

Alien Places
by Patrick Jennings

 

In the beginning
I traveled to alien places
Where I learned a lot
About the world

Until I realized
I was the alien
And then I began to learn
What’s important

What’s me
What’s not me

 
Happy writing!

About the photograph:

In 1998 I bicycled 6,000 kilometers across China. In many ways, China is arguably the most alien place I’ve travelled to.

At least, that’s what I thought, until I reached Xinjiang province, AKA, The Uyghur Autonomous Region.

You probably didn’t realize that the country’s population isn’t entirely Chinese. A sizeable proportion consists of what the Chinese government politely refers to as “minority nationalities”.

Xinjiang is, by far, the country’s largest province. And though it is, especially by Chinese standards, very sparsely populated, the majority population is Muslim, predominantly the Uyghur people.

This photograph was taken along a market street in Kashgar, far-western Xinjiang, just a hop-skip-and-a-steep-climb up to Pakistan over the Karakorum Highway. There’s a butcher on the right, a vegetable stand next to it, and a street food vendor standing at his smokey barbecue, likely serving lamb kebabs.

The Pineapple Man
The Pineapple Man
Here are the posts written in response to the September 1st NWW Photo Prompt:

Long Lasting Fruit Flavour, by Jen Ryan
You can catch me, by Patrick Jennings

NWW Photo Prompt ~ Long Lasting Fruit Flavour

Welcome to the September 1st, 2015 edition of the NWW Photo Prompt!

The New West Writers Photo Prompt is a twice-monthly challenge for writers of all genres. It’s easy to participate — and we encourage everyone to do so. Just spend a moment with the image below and write whatever comes to mind. A couple of lines, or a couple thousand words. Prose, non-fiction, poetry, even a six word story, if you like.

Long Lasting Fruit Flavour
Long Lasting Fruit Flavour

There are no winners (we’re all writers sharing our words) and no rules. Well, one — be respectful with your words.

You can announce your post with a link in a comment below, or if you link to this page from your post, we’ll publish the trackback link in the comment section of this page. Add an “nww photo prompt” tag to your post and we’ll also provide a link to your response in the next challenge. This post outlines these few simple steps.

To get you going, one of our writing group’s members will have the first go at the prompt. Base your post on theirs or go a completely different way.

Long Lasting Fruit Flavour
by Jen Ryan

 

and if we’d never met
we wouldn’t have this

these arms, this hat
this table, these years

how silly that I would never have thought to
how silly that you did
how silly that the world brought us together

from this corner and that
in a way that can’t make sense

but it all comes together
in one perfect mess

if we didn’t have this
we would never have met

and if we’d never met
we wouldn’t have this

Happy writing!

Near and Far
Near and Far

Here are the posts written in response to the August 15th NWW Photo Prompt:

The disappointment of being Canadian, by David Hutchison
The Lake, by Gifford MacShane
In stillness, I find the now, by Patrick Jennings
Near and Far, by Val Mossop
Canada, Everything, by Jes Jessie

NWW Photo Prompt ~ The Disappointment of Being Canadian

It’s the August 15th, NWW Photo Prompt!

The New West Writers Photo Prompt is a twice-monthly challenge for writers of all genres. It’s easy to participate — and we encourage everyone to do so. Just spend a moment with the image below and write whatever comes to mind. A couple of lines, or a couple thousand words. Prose, non-fiction, poetry, even a six word story, if you like.

The Disappointment of Being Canadian
The Disappointment of Being Canadian

There are no winners (we’re all writers sharing our words) and no rules. Well, one — be respectful with your words.

You can announce your post with a link in a comment below, or if you link to this page from your post, we’ll publish the trackback link in the comment section of this page. Add an “nww photo prompt” tag to your post and we’ll also provide a link to your response in the next challenge. This post outlines these few simple steps.

To get you going, one of our writing group’s members will have the first go at the prompt. Base your post on theirs or go a completely different way.

The Disappointment of Being Canadian
by David Hutchison

Just like so many others within the Commonwealth, my father went to war under Canada’s version of the Union Jack. After the war we grew into an independent nation, and one day Canada had its own flag, seemingly the next, a constitution.

We were complete, we were a nation. However, since Mr. Harper’s arrival, there is more a sense of being American. We are giving away our morals as country and adopting another’s. And when examining the political landscape with its attack ads and lack of attention to policy, it gives cause to change.

I like being a Canadian, I like playing the role of the mouse living next to the elephant. It makes me hold our French Canadian brethren with greater reverence as they are a defining characteristic of this nation. And it makes me hold Multiculturalism closer to my heart.

All of that and more, makes me say no, to Stephen Harper.

His pontifications of dependability come from a man whose government has failed to balance the budget in seven, possible eight, we’ll know before we vote, tries.

His attempts to terrorize the country with stories of terrorism running rampant without him, poppycock, simply tails from a bully. The claim of bringing more Syrians here is just air, hot air. He hasn’t delivered on the first promise.

Change might allow us to return to who we are… Canadians.

Such a wonderful thought… isn’t it?

Goodbye Stephen.

 
Happy writing!

Grand Cayman - Queen Elizabeth Botanic Garden - Palm Fronds
Palm Fronds
Queen Elizabeth Botanic Garden
Grand Cayman

Here are the posts written in response to the August 1st NWW Photo Prompt: (If we missed yours, please let us know!)

Palm Fronds by Julian Worker

Riding a photon into infinity by Patrick Jennings

Dreaming of palm fronds by Jes

Ambience by aidyl93

Palm Fronds by Gifford MacShane

Riding a photon into infinity

Grand Cayman - Queen Elizabeth Botanic Garden - Palm Fronds
Palm Fronds
Queen Elizabeth Botanic Garden
Grand Cayman
Watching out the portal as we accelerated toward the speed of light, everything — every thing — began to stretch, elongate. Nearby objects, the Earth, the moon, were first. From round, to oblong, to ovular, to a long rope, to a thread, extending on and on and on and on into the infinite. And as we travelled, I am told, every star and every planet we passed was added to the array of lines which spread wider and wider apart as they approached, but lead of into an infinite unknown.

Continue reading

NWW Photo Prompt ~ Palm Fronds

Welcome back to the NWW Photo Prompt!

The New West Writers Photo Prompt is a twice-monthly challenge for writers of all genres. It’s easy to participate — and we encourage everyone to do so. Just spend a moment with the image below and write whatever comes to mind. A couple of lines, or a couple thousand words. Prose, non-fiction, poetry, even a six word story, if you like.

Grand Cayman - Queen Elizabeth Botanic Garden - Palm Fronds
Palm Fronds

Queen Elizabeth Botanic Garden

Grand Cayman

There are no winners (we’re all writers sharing our words) and no rules. Well, one — be respectful with your words.

You can announce your post with a link in a comment below, or if you link to this page from your post, we’ll publish the trackback link in the comment section of this page. Add an “nww photo prompt” tag to your post and we’ll also provide a link to your response in the next challenge. This post outlines these few simple steps.

To get you going, one of our writing group’s members will have the first go at the prompt. Base your post on theirs or go a completely different way.

Palm Fronds
by Julian Worker

When I first saw this image, I felt I was The Creator at the beginning of The Big Bang witnessing the right-hand side of the creation of our current universe. Photons escape the explosion and start their never-ending journey into the darkness, like a train that never comes out of a tunnel. Patches of dark matter are about to turn into the first stars and galaxies. Matter and anti-matter are mutually annihilating each other and yet why did this explosion, this bang produce more matter than anti-matter? If it had produced equal amounts, we wouldn’t be here. Black Holes, Brown Dwarfs, and Red Shift haven’t come into existence. Atoms that will create us all are being manufactured, and electrons, neutrons, and quarks. The whole of all our existence is here in a dense blanket of seething, boiling creativity. And in this image there is just the first 1 thousandth of a second of time, a snapshot of creation, an instance from the beginning. All this can be seen in a palm frond, if you know what you are looking for.

Happy writing!

Dimples
Dimples

Here are the posts written in response to the July 15th NWW Photo Prompt: (If we missed yours, please let us know!)

Dimples, by Chloe Cocking
Violin of the Sea, by aidyl93
The HSBC Stradivarius, by Julian Worker
Dimples, by Gifford MacShane
Dimples, by Christine Grimard
How to handle dimple, by Jessica
I prefer the cello, but it is still theft, by Patrick Jennings

NWW Photo Prompt ~ I prefer the cello, but it is still theft.

This post is a response to the NWW Photo Prompt, Dimples.

Dimples
Dimples

You see, I like Beethoven. I like to hear the bow of the violin cut into the string. I like to follow the phrase of the violin as it goes on and on, like a deep-rooted orgasm squeezed out into a rope of sound. I like to go out at night in a cosmopolitan city and sit in a dark auditorium watching dancers fly into each other’s arms.
~ Wallace Shawn
  The Fever

It’s interesting that over the years I’ve transposed the violin in this passage from Wallace Shawn’s play, The Fever to the cello. You see, I prefer the cello.

I prefer the deeper tone, the way — especially when it’s amplified, in an arena — the vibration of the string moves through my chest. It’s like a low AUM resonating beneath my sternum when sung from the diaphragm. It connects me to something. Something very deep. Something exquisitely beautiful.

Though, not so much the Beethoven. I prefer my music more modern, more contemporary, some beautiful piece of music even Beethoven could never have dreamed of.

Still… None of this deflects from what Shawn is really getting at with this passage. Its context is privilege. And the question it asks is a complex one: how did I come to deserve to have such beauty in my life, when so many in the world — the vast majority of its 7 billion souls, in fact — live in a poverty so abject and profound, it is beyond my ability to comprehend? How dare I have all this beauty? How can I expect to attend any concert of my desire when so many toil in sweatshops to make the concert t-shirt I bought for just $26? (And complained about the exorbitant cost!) None of those workers could afford that price, let alone the admission to a concert.

I may prefer the cello. But simply knowing of its existence, having the ability to attend a live music event in a multi-million dollar facility with tens of thousands of others so privileged as I… I am humbled, and chastened.

“Property is theft,” the anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhoun infamously said with tart insight. Shawn observes in The Fever, so too beauty is theft.