I wrote yesterday about the importance of collecting specimens to early bird enthusiasts. In response to several extinctions at the turn of the last century the United States and Great Britain (for Canada) enacted the Migratory Bird Act in 1918. This legislation was groundbreaking in the protection of wildlife and is the backbone of conservation in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Specific provisions in the statute include a Federal prohibition to “pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture or kill, possess, offer for sale, sell, offer to purchase, purchase, deliver for shipment, ship, cause to be shipped, deliver for transportation, transport, cause to be transported, carry, or cause to be carried by any means whatever, receive for shipment, transportation or carriage, or export, at any time, or in any manner, any migratory bird, included in the terms of this Convention . . . for the protection of migratory birds . . . or any part, nest, or egg of any such bird.” (16 U.S.C. 703).
I use a variety of natural materials in my artwork — mosses, twigs, acorns, etc. I am often encouraged to used bird nests, eggshell and feathers. I love these materials and they might enhance my work, but I take this law seriously. I simply cannot use them.
I do have a need and desire to examine, draw and photograph the birds that I carve. I have a relationship with a local nature center that grants me access to their mounted bird collection. Certain institutions including museums and schools can keep and collect preserved protected birds. I’ve featured reference photos from this collection here from time to time. (Most reference are listed here.)
Window strikes are a significant cause of bird death. As horrific as these deaths (and statistics) are they do provide an opportunity to examine and photograph specimens.
Yesterday I had an opportunity to photograph a cardinal that had struck a window and died. I provide these photos as reference for other carvers and artists who would like to use these. I paid particular attention to the parts that field guides and standard refernce photos neglect — the underside of the tail, wings and bill. After the photos were taken the bird was returned to the out-of-doors in a respectful manner.
I had a similar opportunity with a gray catbird and posted the photos here.