The New Girls

I saw them on the beach.  They were a winsome quartet:  slim and elegant, standing in the rushing foam that nuzzled their feet like playful, cream-colored kittens.

They were a clique-ish group, and kept to themselves – shy intruders to a seagull governed shore.  They made no noise, keeping their thoughts private – tiny, feminine observations that were kept secure and hidden.

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Recurvirostra Americana: The American Avocet.  In summer they are black and white, with russet heads and necks.  But in winter the colors make a gradual, liquid change until they are completely black and white and ready to migrate across the country to the southern Atlantic Seaboard.

With their tall, model’s legs they are easily identified as members of the stilt family.  Grayish-blue and looking alarmingly breakable, they hold compact feathered bodies high above the salty shallows.  The feathers are knit into a tight tapestry of pattern and color, although I did see tiny plumes curl like ferns in the light breeze.

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Their beaks are curved – hence the Recurvirostra – and have the width of a single, shapely pen-stroke.  Their eyes are black and secretive, holding memories of silent scrutinies of maritime lights and horizons.  Thoughts of sparkling fishes, of scents of blue and green and salt reside inside their shadows.

Their diminutive prints traveled up and down the shore connecting and creating salty runes and symbols.  But soon there was nothing left of them, no thought, no testimonial, except for the scattered crosses pressed into the wet sand that shimmered with quartz and the bending, endless sea.

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13 responses to “The New Girls

  1. They are gorgeous! Why do they have that beak? Do they poke into the sand for food?

  2. What beautiful elegant birds!

  3. What an exquisite little portrait – charming.

  4. We only see them here in their dramatic black and white coloration. They’re here for a couple of months, and then move on. I’ve never seen a photograph of them with the russet heads and necks – I had no idea. The birds are beautiful, as are your photographs and words. Thanks so much for this bit of beauty!

  5. What a wonderful description — I love watching avocets, but had never seen them in this sort of setting before. Thank you, Aubrey!

  6. This is wonderful, thank you!

  7. Such lovely ladies!! I love your descriptions…. 🙂

  8. They’re my favorite. Sadly for them, they’re also Penny’s favorite!

  9. What a beautiful and elegant quartet! Thank you.

  10. In that top photo they’re standing right in the liminal zone.

  11. Oh what lovely birds – I’ve never seen them before! Love the their spindly legs and beaks, and their coloring, especially the gray-blue legs. Wonderful pictures, Aubrey, and your poetic descriptions of their appearance and behavior are delightful, as always.

  12. Such lovely birds! So contained in their own beauty – and in your wonderful, thoughtful prose… Your photos capture their essence, and how perfectly they belong to their environment, too. Thank you, Aubrey, for this beautiful, introduction to a species I’d never seen before…

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