Bird Language Field Notes: An In-Flight Mystery by Josh Lane

“Kee-er AH!! Keer-er AH!!” It was now, towards the end of the bird sit, that a tremendous commotion moved like a tidal wave across the landscape. A red-shouldered hawk circled and screamed overhead, with semi-transparent “windows” in the wings gleaming like crescent moons beneath the overhead sun – very hard to miss! The group had been sitting close to half an hour at this point, each person having spread out to their sit spots to observe bird language at the edges of a meadow deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Close to 40 people had gathered for the Essentials of Nature Connection workshop, coming from across the country and from places around the world to explore connections with the earth and with community. On this morning, as the sun climbed over the tops of the redwoods to warm the hillside, the day’s theme was listening to the language of nature – through the voices of the birds.

American robins, juncos and other birds were initially stirred up as the group dispersed to begin the sit, but had by this time resumed their feeding and territorial behaviors in many places. However, on the northwest side of the meadow, the edge of the forest grew quiet. Was there an accipiter perched somewhere, waiting for an opportunity to snag a bird? Something was brewing. Soon after, the shrill voice of the red-shoulder broke the morning air as the raptor wheeled over the meadow.

The source of the hawk’s agitation? The appearance of a mysterious falcon on the wing, barreling towards the hawk with pointed wings. The skirmish didn’t last long, but was enough to send a wave of alarm through the nearby songbirds, and certainly caught the attention of everyone sitting on the land.

Later, the group gathered to reflect on the morning’s observations. We discussed a variety of bird behaviors witnessed that morning; through looking at group maps made from everyone’s notes of the sit, patterns became apparent that may not have been as easy to see during the actual sit. It helps to have the senses of the whole group working together; pieces of the story fit together like a jigsaw puzzle spread across the land.

There was some debate as to whether the mystery falcon was a kestrel or a merlin. The bird flapped continuously with steady wingbeats, which is a merlin characteristic, and had been spotted sitting on a perch overlooking the meadow before the skirmish began (perhaps this was the cause of the silence that had fallen amongst the song birds in that area – merlins are notable bird hunters). Unlike kestrels, which are known to frequently pump their tails while perched, this bird kept its tail fairly still.

Either way, the event demonstrated how smaller birds of prey tend to harass raptors that are larger than themselves. This principle holds true across raptor species, so when you hear a bird of prey calling excitedly, check either for another bird of the same species nearby, or for a larger raptor in the area. Predators gain the advantage from surprise, so smaller raptors may benefit by driving away potential dangers when they have the chance, before the threat of a surprise attack occurs. This behavior could also ensure the smaller raptor with better access to game by driving away competition.

What birds of prey live in your neighborhood? Get ready for the spring migration as thousands of raptors begin the move back from their wintering grounds. Get a head start on your birdwatching by joining us for our California Bird Language Intensive.




About the Author

Josh bio photo editedJosh Lane is an avid wildlife tracker and bird language observer. He contributed to the “How to Learn Bird Language” section of the book, What the Robin Knows, and developed the Backyard Bird Language online course. Josh is a nature connection mentor with 8 Shields in Northern California, and has presented bird language trainings at events around North America, including the 2013 National Audubon Conference.

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Jon Young, Sal Gencarelle & Josh Lane will join together to share and reflect on wisdom from master trackers from around the world related to tracking and gaining medicine from the animals.

Wed. Feb. 4 at 3PM Pacific Time

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Here are your links to the 2014/2015 Renewal of Creative Path resources:

1. RoCP 2014 Intro by Jon Young (Audio)

2. Tribal Breath 2013 RoCP Keynote (Audio) 

3. Peacemaking Meeting Protocol for Gatherings (PDF Excerpt)

4. Renewal of Creative Path 2014 Document (PDF)

5. Wishcraft by Barbara Sher (PDF for Ideal Scene Portion)

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ADDED: Free MP3 Audio Download on Webinar View Page

Join Jon Young and Julie Wolk for a free webinar on how the 8 Shields movement is bringing nature connection practices and traditions to an expanding community of folks all across the country and world, and how you can help make this happen.

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Connect with us live on November 19 to learn about how the Audubon Society, a mainstream conservation group with over 470 US chapters, has become interested in bringing bird language to its membership. This work is inspiring connection, empathy and the kind of responsible environmental behavior that could change the face of the conservation movement — by bringing people into authentic and close contact with themselves, their communities, and the natural world.


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Awakening the Sacred Leader Within teleseminar


Join Jon Young, Sal Gencarelle, and special guests for a FREE Audio Download where they will share about Awakening the Sacred Leader Within .


Some of the questions we will explore:

How does Sacred Leadership emerge in a person?
What’s the history of Sacred Leadership?
Who has succeeded on this quest for Sacred Leadership and who has succeeded in the shortest amount of time?
How does nature connection play into Sacred Leadership?


In addition, we will look at the issues that tend to block our journey to Sacred Leadership – how we can learn to move through those blocks with ease and grace and how to identify the blocks within and around us – renegotiating our life’s course through regenerative design.




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“The first thing that’s done is you give thanks to everything. You thank the waters beneath the Earth, the stones, the soil, all the way up to the stars. It’s just a reminder of where we are. We should never forget that..”

—Kahionhes John Fadden, Turtle Clan of the Mohawk Nation.


“If all of the children of the world were to be a part of this kind of Thanksgiving each day, I believe that the problems of the world would start to go the other way.”

—Mohawk Sub-Chief Tekaronieneken Jake Swamp




—from the Thanksgiving Address, Haudenosaunee tradition


Today we have gathered and have come from many different places. We have all arrived safely at this place to share with each other our gifts from the Creator. So we bring our minds together as one in Thanksgiving and Greetings to one another.


We send greetings and thanksgiving to our Mother the Earth who, like our own mother, continues to give for our well-being. She continues to care for us and has not forgotten her instructions from the beginning of time. We now bring our minds together in Thanksgiving for the Earth.


Now, as one mind, we turn our thoughts to the Waters of the Earth, that continue to flow beneath the ground, in little streams and in rivers, in lakes and wetlands, and in the great seas. They quench our thirst and help us to keep clean. We now bring our minds together in Thanksgiving to all the Waters of the Earth.


With one mind, we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to all the Beings that dwell in the Water which provide for us in many ways.


Now we direct our thoughts to the many kinds of plants that live low upon the Earth—the mosses, the grasses, the herbs, the food plants and the flowers, for they too have not forgotten their Original Instructions. There are many members of this Nation who sustain those who walk upon this Earth and take away the sicknesses of the human family. With one mind we send our thoughts and Thanksgiving to the Plant Nations.


We now gather our minds together and send Greetings and Thanksgiving to all the Animal Life in the world, for they continue to instruct and teach us even today. We are happy that many still walk with us although their natural world has been changed and life has become very difficult for them at times. Sometimes we may see a fox or a deer eye to eye and we are reminded of that feeling of kinship we get when we see the animals. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving to all the Animal Life in the world.


With one mind we now think of the Trees. According to their Original Instructions the Trees still give us shelter, warmth and food, and keep the air clean. When we see the trees we are reminded of the beauty and power of the natural world. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving to all the members of the Tree Nation.


We now bring our minds together to send our Greetings of Thanksgiving to the Birds. At the beginning of time the Birds were given a very special duty to perform. They were instructed to help lift the minds of the Human Family. Many times during the day our minds are lifted by their songs. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving to all the Birds of the world.


We are thankful to the Four Winds who continue to blow and cleanse the air in accordance with their Original Instructions. When we listen to the Winds it is as if we are hearing the Creator’s breath, clearing our minds as it blows through the Trees.  With one mind we send our Thanksgiving to the Four Winds.


Now we turn our attention to the Thunderbeings. They welcome the springtime with their loud voices. Along with the lightning, they carry the waters of Spring on their backs. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to the Thunderbeings.


Our minds are one as we send our thoughts to our oldest brother the Sun. Each day the Sun continues according to his original instructions, bringing the light of the day, the energy source of all life on Earth. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to our oldest brother the Sun.


We now gather our minds together and give Thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon who holds hands with all of the women of the world, binding all of the cycles and rhythms of the Waters. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to our Grandmother the Moon.


With one mind we send our thoughts to the Star Nations who continue to light our way during times of darkness to guide us home, and who hold the secrets of many forgotten stories. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to the Star Nations.


With our minds as one mind we think of the Four Spirit Beings who live in the Four Directions. We know that they are helping us when we are moving through life and a feeling tells us not to go a certain way, or that we are on the right path. And now we gather our minds together as one and send our special Thanksgiving Greetings to the Four Spirit Beings.


Now we have arrived in a very special place where dwells the Great Spirit that moves through all things. As one mind we turn our thoughts to the Creator with Thanksgiving and Greetings.


We have now become like one being, with one body, one heart, one mind. We send our Prayers and special Thanksgiving Greetings to all the unborn Children of all the Future Generations. We send our thoughts to the many different Beings we may have missed during our Thanksgiving. With one mind we send our Thanksgiving and Greetings to all of the Nations of the World.


Now our minds are one.


We are forever grateful to Jake & Judy Swamp and the Tree of Peace Society for sharing this core teaching with us – and so much more! May your work reach every single person and community in the world. Thank you!


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 Join Sal Gencarelle and special guests for a free teleseminar on:

Activating Fully-Connected Leadership – The Leadership Initiation Project

Tuesday, November 11 at 10AM Pacific Time


On this call, Sal will dive into the topic of leadership with a focus on:

  • Activating the Ropes of Connection
  • How developing connection produces impactful leadership
  • How initiation rites facilitate the embodiment of holistic leadership
  • How fully-connected leaders are empowered to take truly helpful action

We are excited to announce the launch of the 4th year of the Leadership Initiation Project January 2015. The Leadership Initiation Project is focused on the development of leaders who are initiated and steeped in connection techniques, grief transformation, and culture activating processes. Over the past 3 years we’ve had amazing results!

Now at the launch of the 4th year of the Leadership Initiation Project we are offering a free call to explain more about this ongoing project, the tools and techniques we use, and the results we’ve seen. Please join us to learn more about how to develop of a greater state of connection and activate empowered leadership!

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 To get instant access to the rest of this free webinar, please visit:

Unlocking Your Potential Through the 4 Elements 


Sal Gencarelle is also offering a 4-part course on the 4 Elements that can be found here:

Connecting to the 4 Elements – The Foundation of Nature





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Unlocking Your Potential Through the 4 Elements

A FREE online class with Sal Gencarelle


Fire Water Air Stone


Have you ever found yourself feeling isolated, overwhelmed or even harmed by the high-tech, modern world we live in?

Do you ever dream of having such a profound connection to life that you’re not only at peace with the challenges we face, but thriving in your ability to make the world a better place? 


During this FREE, live, online class with author, mentor, and ceremonial leader Sal Gencarelle, we will be exploring human beings relationship to the 4 Original Earth Elements: Fire, Water, Air, and Stone – and how they are foundational to developing deep relationship to the world in which we exist.

Unlocking Your Potential Through the 4 Elements has been inspired and influenced by cultural lineages which have consistently demonstrated the ability to enhance the development of community cultural stakeholders at the highest level of capacity.


About the Presenter:

Sal Gencarelle

Salvatore Gencarelle was mentored in an indigenous lineage for over 27 years. During this mentoring process Salvatore was instructed on how to track patterns in nature as related to the human experience by an indigenous family who is renowned for their knowledge of transformative healing processes and mentoring models which span generations. Salvatore was mentored on how to bridge this knowledge to the modern mindset.

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 Join us for an update from Jon Young about Bird Language Leaders –  a global initiative to partner with conservation groups, leaders in social change, NGO’s and government agencies. This project is focused on making nature connection and cultural mentoring more accessible throughout the U.S., Canada and beyond.




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