A Word from Nancy - Fiery-billed Araçari- January 2024  

2024 calendar cover: Central American Pygmy-Owl/ Glaucidium griseiceps

Brown Pelican Wash. state

Happy New Year! ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!  

It’s okay to stick your neck out!

I’ll talk more about this owl when we get to May.

I decided to keep the tradition going and invite you to join me in answering the following three questions:
1. What did I do well in 2023?
2. What could I have done better?
3. What am I looking forward to in 2024?

January 2024: Fiery-billed Araçari

January 2024: Fiery-billed Araçari

“Watch where you’re looking!”

With a beak this large, it’s pretty clear where this bird is looking. Sometimes my own perspective is not as clear, although it is most certainly influenced by my upbringing and what I choose to let in through my filters.

One thing is certain: I see what I look for. Recently I heard two parables that reflect this ancient wisdom. One is the Buddhist notion of wholesome and unwholesome seeds - the ones you water are the ones that will grow. Another is the Native American story of the ongoing battle between two wolves inside each of us, one good and one evil. Which one wins? The one we feed.

As we head into another new year, I encourage you to honor your past, while being open to new knowledge and ways of viewing the world around us. Feed the goodness.

I took the Araçari photo this past April at Wilson Gardens here in Costa Rica. Like the December bird, this one is a member of the Toucan family. Here’s another shot that shows its raspy tongue.



According to Adventures in Toucanland, the toucan tongue is as long as their bill, and frayed on both sides. This unusual tongue design helps them catch and throw food. Since toucans do not have any teeth, if they get a piece of fruit that is too big to swallow, they will throw it up in the air several times, mashing it between their beak each time they catch it, until it's finally small enough to get down their throat. I don’t recommend trying this at home!


I’ve heard from a number of you that you’ve increased the native plantings in your yard, to create habitat for birds and other creatures. Thank you. We recently met with Jorge Corrales, a native plant specialist here in Costa Rica, and are going to be working with him to swap out some of our plants. It turns out that some we have now are pretty to the eyes, but not as productive of nectar and pollen as the native species they originated from. He told us that plant breeders often focus on color and number of blooms, and while encouraging those, end up with hybrids that aren’t as good at attracting and nourishing pollinators. Maybe sort of like humans who look good but just aren't that interesting to talk to?

We had our second annual Calendar Open House just before we flew down to Costa Rica in late November. One unexpected surprise was that three fellow photographers gifted me with their own calendars for 2024! So I now have four calendars lined up on my counter as ongoing inspiration for the coming year, a reminder that there are many ways to be creative.

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