East Village, New York, New York
I once offered to bird sit a ring necked parakeet while thee owners were away. During my bird care training, the bird grabbed the web of skin between my index finger and thumb with his beak and wouldn’t let go. The pain was intense but I didn’t flinch. The bird shed feathers; my wound bled and healed. We got along well after that.
The Knob, Falmouth, Massachusetts
I was on a beach with a friend and her daughter. We found some pelican remains on the beach; long dead, picked clean. We picked them up, brushed off the sand, and carried them back to the car. The man who was waiting to pick us up, was furious that his daughter had touched something dead.
Ocean Wave Drive, Lake City, Colorado
I rented a room in an old house and used it for a studio. The owners of the house noticed my fascination with mummified cats and rats. Years later, they tore a wall of the house down and found several small mummified birds trapped between the outer and interior walls. They gifted me these small birds, tiny bodies shriveled and dry; dusty feathers still intact.
Joy Street, Red Oak, Iowa
My maternal grandmother terrified me. She had dead creatures that looked like weasels draped around her neck and wore funny little hats with shiny black feathers held in place with netting. I later learned that these accessories were the fashions of the time.
Block 16, Capital City, Colorado
I had a cat that was a great hunter. She left me bird feet from her morning rambles nearly every day. A friend told me that cats do this, leave the leftover bits from their kills on their household’s doorstep, hoping we will learn how to hunt.
7th & Silver, Lake City, Colorado
Someone once brought me a recently killed owl. The body was wrecked so I cut off the wings and feet, salted the joints and kept the wings and talons. I learned that possession of owl wings is a violation of federal law (Migratory Bird Treaty Act), so I buried them in the woods near my home. I kept the talons.