11 Apr 2017

On Your Day: Earth, the Moon Salutes You!

The Moon
 
You can take the moon by the spoonful
or in capsules every two hours.
It's useful as a hypnotic and sedative
and besides it relieves
those who have had too much philosophy.
 
A piece of moon in your purse
works better than a rabbit's foot.
Helps you find a lover
or get rich without anyone knowing,
and it staves off doctors and clinics.
 
Jaime Sabines
 
When it is full, it is extremely beautiful. However, astronauts (who curiously stopped showing the same degree of interest after ten lunar missions) affirm there are no organisms walking its surface, no plants…not even one! How sad it is to know that there is no life on the Moon.
The Moon would not be able to survive without the Earth. It would lose its orbit and will end up who knows where. Likewise, the Earth would not be the same without the Moon: without it, we would have neither waves on the Pacific, or white flowers blooming to its fullness, or “lunatics”, or poets. Without it, less poetry would be written. That would be a tragedy itself.
We are very fortunate: we have both the Moon and the Earth. Those two are 384,400 Kilometers apart, but they always travel together.
Now that I think about it, we definitely could have a Moon Day.
In Panama, a country we love so much, we can find a bird that reminds us of the Moon, because of its colors. With your permission, I would like to talk about this bird. I know the main topic is Earth Day, but I want to include some information about this bird because it can still be seen in our country this month. I think it is worth noting.
It is the Fork-tailed flycatcher (Tyrannus sabana). In Panama City, we can see it in varying numbers throughout the year, more commonly starting from October. They are probably part of the migratory groups coming from Central or South America.
 
Fork-tailed flycatcher. (photo by: Marco Milanesio CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Their feathers show a clear contrast between black and White. They are gray above and white below, with black heads and tails, the feathers on their tails are very long and look like scissors. Male and female birds look similar, but females have a shorter tail. A male Fork-tailed flycatcher can measure 33 to 41 centimeters from its head to the end of its tail (female: 27-32 cm).  Juvenile birds have shorter tails.
 
Watching them fly and steer with their long tails, especially during mating season, is a wonderful sight. They like to rest on open spaces, at low heights, from where they jump and fly to catch insects in mid air. Sometimes, if they had dropped the insect, they immediately pick it up again. They also feed on the fruit of the royal palm.
 
Even though they do not look alike, they belong to the same family as the Tropical Kingbird. During the day, small groups of Fork-tailed flycatchers (or just one male) can be seen flying a little higher than usual.  At sundown, they gather in numerous flocks on the thick foliage of trees. This can be better observed on the countryside.
 
Back to the main topic: April 22, Earth Day. We have been celebrating this day for 47 years now. Just like Mother’s Day, we should be celebrating Earth every day of the year, since it is the planet that provides us with both shelter and nourishment.
We have to stop thinking that we, human beings, are able to save Planet Earth when it seems that we are not even able to save ourselves. A Brazilian indigenous leader once said: “we have to show respect for the Earth before trying to save it.” We need to remember this: respect means understanding, humbleness, wisdom. Having a Biodiversity Museum is, thus, a valuable asset for this purpose.
“Today, the number one economic threat to humanity is our inability to value nature.”
 
“So, valuing nature also means that we have to accept leaving the realm of economics. We enter the realm of ethics, inclusiveness and justice.”
 
Original photo taken from Apollo 17 on December 7, 1972.
 

We have to stop thinking that we, human beings, are able to save Planet Earth when it seems that we are not even able to save ourselves. A Brazilian indigenous leader once said: “we have to show respect for the Earth before trying to save it.” We need to remember this: respect means understanding, humbleness, wisdom. Having a Biodiversity Museum is, thus, a valuable asset for this purpose.

“Today, the number one economic threat to humanity is our inability to value nature.”

“So, valuing nature also means that we have to accept leaving the realm of economics. We enter the realm of ethics, inclusiveness and justice.”