Bird Life in the Desert


Gambel's Quail ©2016 Bo Mackison

Gambel’s Quail ©2016 Bo Mackison

I wonder at my daily sightings of the mama
and papa quail, their brood of chicks dart
like scattered billiards balls, each pecks
for seeds in the rocky soil.

On hot afternoons the adults settle into
the desert earth like ancient ocean puffer balls,
keeping watch, the chicks tucked under
a prickly pear cactus hideout.


Road Runner © 2016 Bo Mackison

Road Runner © 2016 Bo Mackison

He has the habits of a slap stick comedian,
a relative of acclaimed characters in
Western tall tales & Saturday morning cartoons.

I’ve seen him do a helicopter dance,
land with a bird in his beak.
He’ll do combat with a rattler…and win.

And yet in courting, he presents his intended
with a twig or blade of grass,
then the chase is on — ’til she decides yea or nay.

On cool desert mornings he spreads
his tail feathers, exposes dark flesh,
& warms himself with the heat of the sun.
An energy conservationist.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.

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