Thursday, October 3, 2013

BLOGTOBERFEST13 (DAY 3) CO-CREATING WITH A SCIENTIST: Magic and the birth of a bird dance

EMERGENCE! This image is unfinished. I had to postpone completing it this morning so that I could meet with Jen Hilburn to discuss the co-creation of our story. (Art by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for co-creating! Special Hallelujahs for doing that co-creating with Jen Hilburn, ornithologist at St. Catherines Island, Georgia! Jen's talents extend far beyond her education about birds! Her exuberance when talking about the life-cycle of the American oystercatcher invigorates me, wakes me up, and--very importantly for the pleasure seeking creative that I am--makes me laugh and have fun! Hallelujah for joy when engaging in the Daily Creative Practice!

For the month of October, Jen and I are co-creating a story about the American oystercatcher's life-cycle in both words and images. Today, October 3, 2012, is a Thursday, and on Thursdays, Jen and I skype with one another to discuss the co-creation of our "baby." 

This blog entry today expresses some of the mad-cap fun we had while skyping and in the process of aligning the forces of a scientist and artist that we are! 

What needs to be told about the life-cycle of an Amerian oystercatcher, or any bird for that matter? How about this: How does the baby bird get out of the shell?

"SEE THIS IS THE EGG TOOTH". Grabbing the blue pen, Jen Hilburn began a dramatic performance demonstrating how an American oystercatcher "pips" from its shell. The pen illustrates a protrusion that emerges on the top portion of the bird's beak so it can hammer its way out of the shell.  (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
EGG TOOTH. After our skyping session, Jen sent me this photo which shows the "egg tooth" protruding out of the birds top beak. Breaking out of an egg is no easy job! (source of photo)

The "pipping" process requires energy and persistence. And, it is quite awkward because the baby bird is in a "crazy cramped position," says Jen! Inside of the egg, there is not a lot of room; therefore,  the tiny bird has to position itself so that its "egg tooth" goes under its wing so it can begin to crack  the shell. See Jen in the photo below as she illustrates her explanation.
CRAZY CRAMPED POSITION FOR PIPPING. Aren't I the luckiest artist in the world to have such a fun co-creator in a scientist? And isn't it amazing that Jen knows how to use the medium of skype to communicate? (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
Jen continued to perform for me while explaining the challenging moves that a baby chick makes to emerge from the confinement of its shell. In the midst of Jen's performance,  MAGIC happened for me! Simultaneously, she had my brain turned on, listening to the biological steps of a bird pipping....and she had my heart soaring as I witnessed her dance what I can only call THE BIRTH OF A BIRD
PERSISTENT EXHAUSTING WORK.  Jen "danced" the pipping for me, and I watched fascinated. The pen has been exchanged for scissors, perhaps a more appropriate tool to represent the egg tooth. I also pointed out to Jen that she was wearing American oystercatcher colors (black and white). (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
We are truly co-parenting this story of the life-cycle of the American oystercatcher! Without me "witnessing" Jen's pipping dance, this moment would not have been documented in these photos and held tenderly in my creative thoughts which are expressed in this blog entry. 

In these next few days, how will I give form and essence to Jen's explanation and dance? How can I "recreate" it another form? Stay tuned to find out my answers! 

That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me if you have ever danced the "pipping" dance. Would you like to?
TIRED BABIES. It is not easy to emerge from the confinements of a shell. After the baby birds are "born," they are exhausted and must rest. This is the first image I drew this morning. It also is unfinished. (art by Hallelujah Truth)


  1. Love, love, love This blog. It is so fun watching and reading as you and Jen do the "pipping" of the Oystercatcher. What a wonderful and interesting life and friends you have. Can't wait to read the rest of the story and for sure I am staying tuned..

  2. Darlene! I certainly appreciate the friends I have gathered into my life--you are one of them! Jen is definitely another. One fun thing about friends are the way they surprise you! I love how Jen reaches across the gap between us--she, the scientist, and me, the artist. I feel slightly anxious but also excited about moving forward into the story of the AMOY (abbreviation for American oystercather.

  3. Awesome blog - LOVE the skype pics - so excited to witness this creation journey!

    1. Thanks Christine! I usually have my phone with me when I skype with Jen because some times we get cut off! So I was ready when she started acting out THE BIRTH OF A BIRD dance.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing! This story reminds me of two things. First, I remember hearing once that a museum tried to help a shipment of beautiful, exotic butterflies from their cocoons, only to learn that butterflies only grow strong enough to live through the process of struggling to emerge from their cocoons. I wonder if this is part of the process for birds as well? Second, I remember a passage in a Malcolm Gladwell book where he talked about the fact that Chinese American students consistently perform above their IQ level. It's not that they are smarter than other students, but they are taught from an early age to persist, to keep trying even if something is difficult. All of these stories seem important to building a resilient future! With love and appreciation, Marianne